Despite registration that is required annually nationwide, the whereabouts of more than 77,000 convicted sex offenders are unknown in 32 states, according to a survey conducted recently by Parents for Megan’s Law, a nonprofit advocacy group. Moreover, officials in the remaining 18 states and the District of Columbia were unable to calculate how many convicted sex offenders are unaccounted for, the Associated Press reports.
All 50 states in the US have a version of Megan’s Law – the 1996 law named after Megan Kanka, a 7 year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved in across the street – that requires the addresses of convicted sex offenders be verified once a year and made available to the public. However, as this study found, state law enforcement officials are not being given the tools to follow through on these mandates.
“They’re implementing Megan’s Law, then turning their backs on it,” Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, told AP. “They need the technology and the staff to track down their sex offenders.”
Parents for Megan’s Law launched the survey last month after an AP investigation found that California had lost track of 33,296 sex offenders, or 44 percent of the 76,350 who registered with the state at least once. The survey found that Oklahoma and Tennessee had the highest rates of noncompliance – with 50 percent of all known offenders unaccounted for, according to AP.
“It is alarming there are those who slipped through the cracks but the majority are still accounted for,” Maureen Kanka, Megan’s mother who has been a leading advocate on the issue, told AP. “Now we have to stand back and say, ‘How do we make this more effective for those who have slipped through the cracks?”
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .