Washington State's 1990 Community Protection Act included America's first law authorizing public notification when dangerous sex offenders are released into the community. However, it was the brutal 1994 rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka that prompted the public demand for broad based community notification. On May 17, 1996, President Clinton signed Megan's Law. The Sheriff's Department maintains the Dade County Sex Offender Registry.
Megan's Law requires the following two components:
Community Notification - Megan's Law allows States discretion to establish criteria for disclosure, but compels them to make private and personal information on registered sex offenders available to the public. Community notification:
Assists law enforcement in investigations
Deters sex offenders from committing new offenses
Establishes legal grounds to hold known offenders
Offers citizens information they can use to protect children from victimization
Sex Offender Registration - The 1994 Jacob Wetterling Act requires States to register individuals convicted of sex crimes against children. Sex offender registration laws are necessary because:
The privacy interests of persons convicted of sex offenses are less important than the government's interest in public safety
Protecting the public from sex offenders is a primary governmental interest
Release of certain information about sex offenders to public agencies and the general public will assist in protecting the public safety
Sex offenders pose a high risk of re-offending after release from custody
The Dade County Sheriff's website is maintained separately and independently from Dade County. The website contains information about the department and its goals and values, as well as sex offender information.