Megan’s Law Wouldn’t Have Saved Megan

[Written 3-23-03]

It’s true.

Megan’s murderer, Jesse Timmendequas’ prior criminal history would not have put him on the Megan’s Law sexual predator list.

Megan’s Law created a sex offender registry. The idea is that if a community knows about a sex-offender in their midst, they can protect themselves against the person. To protect people like Megan, they probably should have created a pedophile registry. But they didn’t.

[Unfinished Rant]

O’Brien, Tim. 1996. Would Megan’s Law Have Saved Megan. New Jersey Law Journal 8 July, 1, 24-25.

The Brady Gun Law wouldn’t have saved Brady
The Brady Law forces waiting periods for handguns and background checks for potential purchasers. Although he has serious psychological problems, that wasn’t medically recorded until after the incident. John Hinckley wouldn’t have been stopped or even slowed down by these restrictions.

Jenna’s Law probably wouldn’t have saved Jenna
Jenna’s Law (1998) in New York State reduces the amount of “time off for good behavior” that a violent criminal can receive. It increases the actual time served from 66% of the sentence to 85% of the sentence. Her murderer, Nicholas Pryor had served 2/3 of his 14 year sentence (9.3 years) and was released on parole. During that parole, he killed Jenna Grieshaber. Jenna’s Law reasons that if he had served that extra 2.6 years, Jenna would be alive today.

Eh, I don’t buy it.

Sean’s Law would have saved Sean
Sean’s Law (enacted in NY in 2003) revokes the driver’s license or permit of a junior driver upon their first appearance in court… not at the arraignment 3 weeks later. It seems reasonable that a young driver might not have a handle on the whole “don’t drink and drive” thing. Phew, at least some of the laws are reasonable.

Kendra’s Law wouldn’t have saved Kendra (or Edgar)
This NY state law enacted in 2000 requires that people with a history of not taking their mental illness medication be forced into treatment. Unfortunately, her killer, Andrew Goldstein wasn’t resisting treatment. (reference: USA Today article) A few months after Kendra was killed, Edgar Rivera was killed by Julio Perez. Julio hadn’t resisted treatment either. Actually, he was begging for treatment. Read this snippet from Mcmanweb.

Two weeks before the subway incident, Julio called a friend, panic-stricken because he needed medicine and his Medicaid card had been canceled. Two days before the attack, he again called his friend, saying he wanted to go into a hospital, but he failed to make a planned rendezvous. On the day of the attack, he actually presented himself in the emergency room of a VA hospital, and later that day appeared at a police station and a courthouse to file a complaint against his “enemies”.

The Jeanne Clery Act probably wouldn’t have saved Jeanne Clery
(though I think disclosure is a very good thing)

The website says

Jeanne’s parents, Connie and Howard, discovered that students hadn’t been told about 38 violent crimes on the Lehigh campus in the three years before her murder.

By using the Jeanne Clery Disclosure website, I can see that in 2001 through 2003, there were 41 violent crimes involving students (including “non-campus” incidents).

By snagging some numbers , it looks like the national average of violent crimes in college in 1999 was (roughly) around 50 per 100,000 students per year. Lehigh’s crime rate was about 38/3 / 6,800 students = roughly 100 per 100,000 students per year. I haven’t researched this fully but it looks like Lehigh was “a bit more” dangerous than the average school. Would she have still gone to the school if she had known? I’d argue “probably”.

What Jeanne didn’t Know

Her killer was a drug and alcohol abuser, a Lehigh student whom Jeanne had never met. He gained access to her room by proceeding, unopposed, through three propped-open doors, each of which should have been locked. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

After learning that Lehigh had unilaterally absolved itself of blame in Jeanne’s death, we had no choice but to turn to the courts, suing the college for negligent failure of security and failure to warn of foreseeable dangers on campus. In 1988 Lehigh settled with us and agreed to materially enhance security on its campus….

Through my limited crime statistics info on the Lehigh campus, it unfortunately don’t seem like the security enhancements have done any good. I only know what’s been said on their website but it would seem tremendously difficult to prevent a smart, murderous Lehigh University student from entering a small suburban dorm (The Centenial II Complex) like the one Jeanne lived in.

The following is a very startling statement:
A recent survey, cited by the U.S. House of representatives, reported that thirty-eight percent of college women questioned had either been raped or were victims of felony sexual assaults.

But that doesn’t make sense… From 1998 to 2000, there were 5,500 “Forcible Sex Offenses” and “Nonforcible Sex Offenses”. Divide that by 3 for 1,833 per year. There are approximately 9 million college students in America. That means you have a 1,800 in 9 million chance of being a sex offense victim per year. 1,800 * 5 years in college / 9 million = 0.1% chance of being a victim in college. Lets take a wild guess and say that fully 3/4 of those 9 million aren’t undergraduates. that changes it to a 0.4% chance of being a victim… these numbers aren’t adding up.

I fear and loathe random crimes like this one as much as her parents did. The steps her parents took were, I believe very positive ones and will likely reduce college crime. But sadly, it probably would not have saved Jeanne Clery.

The Protect Act would not have saved Amber. Though AMBER Alert very well might have saved Amber

AMBER Alert is a good idea. It has saved lives. One should note that no laws needed to be created to enact the AMBER system. The “Protect Act” which President Bush signed in 2003 supposedly in support of the AMBER Alert is by and large a pile of horse shit. It enacts a pile of worthless, expensive, rights violating laws supposedly in the name of Amber Hagerman.

I will show you what the Protect Act does (according to Wikipedia). Take a moment and ask if any of these laws would have prevented or protected Amber Hagerman from being kidnapped and killed. (note that her murder is still unsolved)

* Provides for mandatory life imprisonment of sex offenses against a minor if the offender has had a prior conviction of abuse against a minor, with some exceptions.
* Establishes a program to obtain criminal history background checks for volunteer organizations.
* Authorizes wiretapping and monitoring of other communications in all cases related to child abuse or kidnapping.
* Eliminates statutes of limitations for child abduction or child abuse.
* Bars pretrial release of persons charged with specified offenses against or involving children.
* Assigns a national AMBER Alert Coordinator.
* Implemented Suzanne’s Law. Named after Suzanne Lyall, a missing college student of the University of New York at Albany, the law eliminates waiting periods before law enforcement agencies will investigate reports of missing persons ages 18-21. These reports are also filed with the NCIC.
* Prohibits computer-generated child pornography.
* Prohibits drawings, sculptures, and pictures of such drawings and sculptures depicting minors in (Miller test) obscene OR engaged in sex acts.
* Maximum sentence of 5 years for possession, 10 years for distribution.
* Authorizes fines and/or imprisonment for up to 30 years for U.S. citizens or residents who engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad.
* Does not include drawings, anime, cartoons, and/or comic satire.


  1. Mark says:

    Hooke’s Law wouldn’t have saved Hooke

    Since he died of mercury poisoning, but had he been bungie jumping, it might have worked in his favor! :)

  2. Estrella Neapoli says:

    All of these laws place people into huge unconstitutional groupings. Now politicians have created fear to control a mob scene to enact laws that make money. Megan’s law for example treats each alleged sex offender as a group. This means if a sex offender wants to try to prove their innocence, they can’t. The judges are afraid of releasing one person, means all have to be set free. I have a friend who is a convicted tier 3 sex offender. Yet, the lying girl went to jail, he is still a tier 3.

  3. Free says:

    A recent survey, cited by the U.S. House of representatives, reported that thirty-eight percent of college women questioned had either been raped or were victims of felony sexual assaults.

    But that doesn’t make sense… From 1998 to 2000, there were 5,500 “Forcible Sex Offenses” and “Nonforcible Sex Offenses”.

    Where are you getting the figures on forcible and nonforcible sex offenses? Most rapes and felony sexual assaults simply are not reported. And that is particularly true among college women, since many of their rapes are “date rapes,” which are the most underreported category. So it would make sense that far more women would say they had been raped (if asked) than the figures on reported crimes would indicate.

    Of course, this just adds to the reasons that protection laws don’t generally work. Taking the sex offender registry as an example, the vast majority of child molestations are at the hands of family members with no history of arrests (much less convictions) for sexual offenses.

  4. Lee says:

    The figures come from the page mentioned above.

    If the people that run the Jeanne Clery site can’t be troubled to work out the projections… IE what percentage of crimes generally aren’t reported… and push that into their statistics tables, then hurumph!

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