Attorney General Urges Lawmakers to Save Megan's Law
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the following statement today regarding the expiration of Megan's Law on December 31, after the Assembly failed to pass legislation extending the public database to obtain information about serious and high-risk sex offenders:
"Today, the California Police Chiefs Association joins me in urging lawmakers to act quickly to ensure Californians can continue to have uninterrupted access to the whereabouts of registered sex offenders living in their communities.
"I have been talking with Gov. Gray Davis and legislative leaders about the paramount importance of continuing this program, and have asked that the Governor consider convening a special session of the Legislature for the sole purpose of extending Megan's Law, which is set to expire on December 31.
"The failure of the Legislature to pass a bill sponsored by my office and the Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning (AB 1313, Parra), has jeopardized the ability of Californians to have access to this critical database. This inaction also risks $5.1 million in federal funding that California stands to lose for missing an October 1 deadline for authorizing campus police to disclose information about registered sex offenders on California college and university campuses.
"Over the past two years, I have taken many steps to make Megan's Law information more accurate, timely and accessible for Californians. We are working with local law enforcement and state and federal agencies to more quickly identify registered sex offenders who have died, moved out of state, been re-incarcerated or been deported. Since January, we have identified the whereabouts of 8,000 of 33,000 sex offenders who have failed to update their addresses with local law enforcement, as required by law. The information now is updated every 24 hours and is available in 13 languages.
"I have sponsored and supported legislation to post Megan's Law on the Internet to make it even more convenient for Californians to use. While those efforts have so far been refused passage in the Legislature, I am confident that we will soon win the fight to put this critical information on the Internet.
"But without extending the life of California's Megan's Law, there is no program to expand and improve. If the Legislature meets in special session before early October, Megan's Law can be renewed with a simple majority vote, avoiding the threat of any further partisan games, and allowing the measure to go into effect in 90 days, by January 1. I urge all legislators, Democrats and Republicans, to join the California Police Chiefs Association and me, put aside their partisan politics, and vote for public safety."