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Copyright (c) 1995 by the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, Inc.
Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems

"Megan's Law": Community Notification and the Constitution

Fall, 1995

29 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 117


Simeon Schopf *


I. Introduction

In late July 1994 seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and strangled to death. What separates this act of violence from those that litter the newspapers everyday is that Megan's alleged killer lived across the street. The three men who lived in the house across the street from the Kankas in Hamilton Township, New Jersey had served time together in Avenel, the facility for sex offenders in New Jersey. 1 Of course, the Kankas and their neighbors were unaware of the presence of this club. Megan's parents and neighbors learned of Jesse Timmendequas's history only after he was arrested and had confessed to the murder. 2 They discovered that Timmendequas, like his roommates, was a convicted pedophile, who had served time for fondling a seven-yearold girl and almost strangling her. 3 The police say that Timmendequas enticed Megan to come into his house by promising to show her his puppy, and then he raped her and strangled her to death. 4

Unfortunately, incidents like this one are not limited to the quiet streets of Hamilton Township. Megan's murder brought national attention to yet another issue in the raging war on violent crime: how to deal with released sex offenders. 5 The public outrage led to a push for new legislation which culminated in the
inclusion of special provisions in the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 6 (the "Act") to protect children from sex offenders. The Act, signed into law by President ...
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