The parents of 7-year-old
Megan Kanka of Hamilton
Township did not know that a twice, convicted sex
offender was living across the street until that
neighbor was charged with the brutal rape and
murder of their daughter.
Clinton Signs Tougher "Megans Law"
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 17) - Under fire for his
anticrime credentials. President Bill Clinton signed legislation today
requiring states to notify communities when a sex offender
moves in (256K WAV sound).
The so-called "Megan's Law," which cleared the House 418-0
earlier this month, is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of
Hamilton Township, N.J., who was killed two years ago.
Charged with the crime was a convicted sex offender who the
Kankas were unaware lived across the street from them.
Kanka's parents, Richard and Maureen, attended the White House ceremony, where
Clinton said they " have lived through the greatest pain a parent can know."
Clinton noted the rights of former offenders, but said "there is no greater right
parent's right to raise a child in safety and love... Today America circles the wagons
around our children." The president predicted the law will be upheld by the courts.
After the murder, New Jersey passed "Megan's Law," and a 1994
federal crime measure included similar provisions allowing states
to inform a community when a convicted sex offender moves
into the area. ^
The latest legislation goes a step further by requiring states to
inform the public, although officials would determine how much
public warning is necessary, based on the danger posed by the
offender. States would have to establish a warning system by
September 1997 or they could lose some federal anti-crime funds.
Clinton supported the tougher federal requirements as the bill moved through the
legislative process, and in this election year, the president is sure to cite it as more
evidence of his commitment to fighting crime.
One of Republican challenger Robert Dole's themes so far is that Clinton is soft on
crime and has appointed lenient judges.
The bill sponsor, Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-N.J.), told the Associated Press the measure
"gives parents the information every parent has the right to know, which is whether
there is somebody who can hurt their children living in their neighborhood."
Dole has talked of his work in making "Megan's Law" a reality, but Zimmer says
Clinton deserves credit, too, for his support.