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September 28, 2011

"Megan's Laws as a Case Study in Political Stasis"

The title of this post is the title of this new piece from Professor Wayne Logan now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Sex offender registration and community notification laws, today commonly known as Megan's Laws, are typically seen as consumate products of legislative panic.  Unlike many other panic-driven laws, however, the political forces motivating Megan's Laws have not dissipated, and the laws have grown exponentially over time, despite research casting considerable doubt on their public safety efficacy.  This symposium contribution examines how and why Megan's Laws have endured -- even thrived -- notwithstanding concerns over their utility, and reflects upon their likely continued political impregnability in the years to come.

September 28, 2011 at 08:46 AM | Permalink

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Comments

"...reflects upon their likely continued political impregnability in the years to come"

That sounds like the definition of "Jim Crow Laws".

How legal is Megan's Law?? We already know that this law, when applied to those prior to it becoming a law, is an Ex Post Facto violation!

However, there is a bigger picture that seems to elude rational thought:

Studies have shown the registry to be "non-effective" for children's safety. Yet, in a cash strapped nation, we continue to let the lawmakers spend money on a program that does not work, does not protect children and does not make our communities any safer. In fact, the same studies have show that the registry works in the opposite of it's intended function.

So we are very irresponsible to let Megan's Law continue. Or is the purpose of law today only a measure to keep politician's in office????????????

Posted by: Book38 | Sep 28, 2011 11:50:47 AM

Are there examples of "panic driven" laws that do not "grow exponentially" over time? Drugs, firearms, immigration, sex-offender registration - I can't think offhand of any such law where penalties have been lessened just because they turned out to be ineffective at reducing targeted behaviors. Indeed, that's usually just used as an excuse to double down on a bad idea.

Legislators, as far as I can tell, virtually NEVER repeal old, panic-driven laws once they're on the books. The only examples I can think of where panic-driven laws were walked back - e.g., anti-sodomy statutes - were done by the courts, never legislators.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 28, 2011 12:15:11 PM

you hit it right on the head there grits!

unfortunatly over the last 50-60 years our courts have become little more than rubber stamps for the govt!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 28, 2011 1:41:44 PM

There are no consequences to the panic drivers. Hence no reason to stop and think. Isn't it time to send a message for the sake of deterrence?

Posted by: Rebel | Sep 28, 2011 6:20:27 PM

Rodsmith:

The USSC and Bill are the greatest rubber stampers of unconstitutional idiotic laws by our selected officials who know how to game the ignorance of the electorate.

And Bill is just fine with that!

Posted by: albeed | Sep 29, 2011 12:10:51 AM

albeed --

"The USSC and Bill are the greatest rubber stampers of unconstitutional idiotic laws by our selected officials who know how to game the ignorance of the electorate."

I don't know whether to be insulted or thrilled that you group me with the USSC. For once, you have me in a real quandry.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 30, 2011 6:38:52 PM

Bill:

You know, I don't know how to always read you, but you do not always read me accurately. Ah, the trouble with the English Language. I believe the USSC has abrogated its position to determine what is constitutional and you may or may not fit in.

However, your absolute defense of the DP troubles me because there are many troubles in our "just us system" to be absolutely objective (i.e. improved scientific methods, see NAS evaluation of forensic methods), that I cannot execute people, except beyond a reasonable doubt, and FBI lies and eyewitless testimony are terribly inaccurate.

You and I are not so different, except of my total contempt of Congress to be able to improve our Country.

Posted by: albeed | Oct 1, 2011 12:35:57 AM

your wrong here albeed!

"You and I are not so different, except of my total contempt of Congress to be able to improve our Country."

They could improve our country 10000000% tomrrow if they would just hold a meeting and have a collective throat cutting session!

heck the collection IQ of the country might jump 10-20 points!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 1, 2011 1:22:50 AM

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