California Sued Over Megans’ Law Inaccuracies
California Sued Over Megans’ Law Inaccuracies .
The Sacramento Bee recently reported that 2 California taxpayers sued the state over Megan’s Law errors. Although they were required to be on the Megan’s Law registry, the site incorrectly listed their dates of conviction and release. As a result, both parties claim that people who saw their names and addresses on the website physically attacked them.
The Megan’s Law Registry requires the State to list the crime, date of crime and date of release on the website. According to the plaintiffs, the information posted is incorrect 92% of the time. However, it is unknown how they obtained that statistic.
In an effort to protect the public against sex offenders, the State of California, has set up a database of offenders and their locations for vengeful parties to use, not just as a defense, but also offensively. It is ironic that when a sex offender is in prison or jail, they are placed in protective custody to keep other prisoners from attacking them. However, when these parties are released, their whereabouts are spelled out on a website—of course with a disclaimer that it would be illegal to use the database for any illegal purpose such as discrimination in housing.
In this age, where everything is “googled”, of course potential landlords and hiring managers check the very public Megan’s Law website! It is hardly a news flash that the general public may contain vengeful people or those who are just looking for an excuse to act out violently. The same people who are in the jails eventually are released to society and people convicted of sexual offenses are no longer protected by prison guards and separate quarters.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleged that an attacker came after him with a sledge hammer – because the website failed to show the date of the offense was in 1979!
Some states that have a sexual offender registry are not as thorough as California when they list sexual offenders. Some states classify offenders by the seriousness of the crimes and the offender’s danger to society. That is not the case in California.
Because of the stigma of self-identifying as someone on the Megans’ Law Registry website, it would be surprising if a large number of people began suing the state. However, that is likely to be the only way that the dangers of the website can be addressed.