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Governor Signs Bill to Extend Megan's Law
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that a new law signed today by the Governor will extend Megan's Law and allow children accompanied by their parent to view the Megan's Law CD-Rom. The bill, AB 1340, was sponsored by the Attorney General and authored by Assembly Member Mike Honda of San Jose.
California's Megan's Law, passed in 1996, allows law enforcement agencies to disclose information about "serious" and "high-risk" sex offenders to the public and allows California residents to view the CD-ROM at police and sheriff's stations or call a "900" telephone number for the information. California's Megan's Law was set to expire on January 1, 2001.
"Thousands of citizens have used information to protect themselves, their children, and their loved ones as a result of California's Megan's Law," Lockyer said. "Our report shows that during the past two years, 56,000 people searched the CD-ROM, citizens contacting our ‘900' telephone line requested more than 37,000 searches, and local law enforcement agencies released information on 3,100 sex offenders living in California communities. Just last month, more than 4,000 people viewed the CD-ROM under DOJ supervision during the California State Fair in Sacramento and recognized more than 700 sex offenders that were living in their communities." Lockyer also noted that the CD-ROM would also be made available by DOJ at the Los Angeles County Fair.
AB 1340 extends the sunset date for Megan's Law for another three years, from January 1, 2001 to 2004. This bill also permits a child, accompanied by a parent or guardian, to view the Megan's Law CD-ROM. The bill also makes various technical changes to the law.
Since Megan's Law was enacted, law enforcement agencies have received numerous requests from parents to allow their children to view the CD-Rom. Parents reason that their children may not recognize a sex offender; thus, would be less likely to avoid such dangers. Accordingly, AB 1340 helps to increase the awareness of susceptible children and further protects the public.
Lockyer also announced that the number for the California Sex Offender Information "900" telephone line was recently changed to 1-900-448-3000. For a $10 fee, a caller may inquire on up to two subjects.
"The key to Megan's Law is providing information to parents and the community to prevent a child or loved one from becoming a victim of a devastating assault," Lockyer said.
The newly released report, "California's Megan's Law," covers 1998 and 1999 and is available at http://www.caag.state.ca.us.