Megan's Law is the law that requires law enforcement to make information about registered sex offenders available to the public. It also provides information about the offender’s conviction and a description of the offense, such as, "Subject sexually assaulted a juvenile female." New legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., seeks to take this law to an international level.
The goal of this law is to protect children from exploitation, especially sex trafficking in tourism, by providing advance notice of intended travel by registered child-sex offenders outside the United States to the government of the country of destination, requesting foreign governments to notify the United States when a known child-sex offender is seeking to enter the United States.
The bill urges the president to reach bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding with other nations on training and procedures upon notification, including the denial of a visa, and to formally request that foreign governments notify the U.S. when a U.S. citizen has been arrested, convicted, sentenced, or completed a prison sentence for a child-sex offense in the foreign country.
In 2008, when meeting with a group from Thailand on human trafficking Smith asked, "If we told you a convicted pedophile was coming to Bangkok, what would you do?"
“We wouldn't let them in,” the Thailand activists responded, that's when Smith realized that such a framework needed to exist.
Some believe this is a modern day scarlet lettering. However, most do not realize sex offenders are assigned to one of three tiers, based on their risk of re-offending. The risk assessment is done by a Superior Court judge. Only those put in the top two tiers are placed on the Internet registry.
While Megan’s Law is not a stand-alone mechanism to deter recidivism, I think it's a great tool to help combat this abhorrent issue. Human trafficking is a crisis that must be addressed at all levels, both domestically and internationally.