California Rep. Dan Lungren (R) was instrumental in passing Megan's
Law, which made information on sex offenders more accessible to the public.
Rather than having to visit a police station, residents of California
are now able to access online information on the residency, physical description
and convictions of sex offenders. This helps some people to feel that
they are more effectively safeguarding themselves and their children.
According to the Martinez News-Gazette, Rep. Lungren is hoping to take
sex-offender registries to a new level, making them international. He has introduced a new house
bill that would require California sex offenders to notify law enforcement
21 days before leaving the United States.
Support for the Bill
This law would give foreign governments advance notice of sex offenders
who would be arriving on their shores. Supporters argue that this will
lead to better communication between countries regarding sex offenders,
and it might prevent sex offenders from harming others beyond our borders.
Lungren has been talking with Cambodia and other countries about the sex-offender
bill, and he hopes to foster relationships with countries in which child
sex tourism has become an increasing problem. Requiring sex offenders
to notify authorities about their international travel may be one step
toward accomplishing that goal.
Currently, sex offenders are required to register with local databases,
and they must inform local officials before they move to another city
or county. The laws regarding sex-offender registration vary subtly from
one jurisdiction to another, but the purpose is to keep communities informed
of sex offenders living within them.
Criticism of the Bill
The American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Martinez News-Gazette,
does not support the sex-offender legislation. The organization argues
that sex offenders who are no longer in prison have already paid their
debt to society, and that requiring them to make notification about international
travel would constitute an unfair burden.
Lungren has many supporters, however, and he hopes to push this legislation
through before the end of the year. His meetings with Cambodian and Mexican
officials have been promising, so it is possible that this bill could
mean a step forward in communication with other countries about sex offenders.