Could a sex offender be living in your neighborhood? You may not be able to protect your children from all dangers, but a quick search of the sex offender database before you relocate or buy a house is a smart idea.
What is Megan's Law?
Megan Kanka was a 7-year-old who was brutally raped and murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender, living across the street from her in New Jersey. In 1994, Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed "Megan's Law" requiring convicted sex offenders to register with local police. President Clinton signed the statute into U.S. law in May 1996.
Megan's Law is designed to sanction sex offenders and reduce their recidivism rate. The law is enacted and enforced on a state-by-state basis.
Who Is Required to Register?
Offenses requiring registration include felony sexual assault (regardless of the age of the victim), sexual abuse or exploitation of minors, and sexual abuse of wards, patients, or clients. This includes those on probation or parole or anyone else serving any other form of community supervision. Juveniles are required to register in Arkansas when ordered by the court. Also required to register in Arkansas are any persons acquitted on the grounds of mental disease or defect, out-of-state offenders required to register in their own state, and offenders registered in another state who work or attend school in Arkansas.
There are four levels of sex offenders under Arkansas law. The levels represent the likelihood the offender will re-offend, with 1 being the least likely to re-offend and 4 being a sexually violent predator.
Sex offenders in risk levels 1, 2, and 3 are required to re-register at the sheriff's office every six months. Level 4 offenders must re-register every 3 months. The levels are Arkansas-specific: if a sex offender moves to Arkansas from another state, they must be evaluated in Arkansas. This process can take several months, and law enforcement is not allowed to notify the public until a risk level has been assigned by the state of Arkansas.
As of January 1, 2004, ACIC created a section on their website to display information, including pictures of registered sex offenders that have been assessed at Level 3 and Level 4, pursuant to §12-12-911(Viii). Level 2 sex offenders are listed if the sex offender was 18 years of age or older and the victim was age 14 or under when the crime was committed.
A Level 3 or 4 sex offender cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school, daycare, or public park.
In Arkansas, if a sex offender lived in an area prior to a school, daycare, or public park being opened there, they do not have to relocate.
Police are required to do public notifications for Level 3 and Level 4 sex offenders. They may notify on Level 2 sex offenders if the sex offender was 18 years of age or older and the victim was age 14 or under when the crime was committed. Police may go door-to-door, notifying neighbors of the identify and address of a sex offender.
How Long Are Offenders on the List?
Offenders are registered for life if a sexually violent predator or if convicted of an aggravated sex offense or multiple offenses. Otherwise, they are registered 15 years from the date of release from incarceration or from being placed on parole, probation, or other supervision.
How Many Are Registered?
Arkansas has about 13,000 registered sex offenders.
The web address is http://acic.org/offender-search/index.php.