Sex Offender Law Could Go Global

February 13, 2010

miamiherald.com: Sex offender law could go Global with California lawmaker’s bill

– See related posts: A Move to Register Sex Offenders Globally and International Megan’s Law Proposed

Megan’s Law soon could go international. The law requires convicted sex offenders to be registered with the government, making it easier to track their whereabouts. Their names can then be put into databases, allowing the public to do a quick online check to determine where offenders reside. While the law now applies to all states, California Republican Rep. Dan Lungren is proposing a worldwide crackdown on high-risk sex offenders.

Under his bill, convicted sex offenders would have to tell local law enforcement of their travel plans 21 days before leaving their country. That information would then be shared with diplomatic officials in foreign countries, who could keep track of the offenders. Lungren is already working with the Mexican government on the proposal.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the plan, saying it would be wrong to impose new restrictions on people who already have served their sentences. However, Michael Macleod-Ball, the ACLU’s chief legislative and policy counsel, said he fears the bill will pass because no one in Congress will want to cast a vote that could be interpreted as supporting sex offenders. “Absolutely, we’re worried about something like this passing because it’s very easy to get a yes vote,” he said. “Maybe we should say the converse: If you vote against something like this, you sort of stick out like a sore thumb.”

Lungren said his bill is an attempt to get tough with U.S. sex offenders who leave the country and then commit similar crimes overseas.
If Lungren’s plan is passed, Sensley said, the most significant hurdle would be trying to gain the cooperation of other countries, many of which have different laws and different cultural norms. “What we define in the United States as a sex offender may not necessarily be defined as such in other countries,” Sensley said.

Macleod-Ball, of the ACLU, said that there are always concerns about accuracy in a large database and that there would be lasting repercussions if anyone were mistakenly included. He said countries would have to work closely to make sure there’s consistency about who’s included, particularly since local laws can differ widely.

We must all contact our U.S. Congressmen via telephone and letters. Your representative can be found here: http://house.gov.
Readers can track the progress of this bill at http://www.loc.gov by searching terms: “International Megan’s Law” or “H.R.1623

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