Facts About Megan’s Law


  • New Jersey, as a whole, has experienced a consistent downward trend of sexual offense rates with a significant change in the trend in 1994.
  • In all but two counties, sexual offense rates were highest prior to 1994 and were lowest after 1995.
  • County trends exhibit substantial variation and do not reflect the statewide trend, suggesting that the statewide change point in 1994 is an artifact of aggregation.significant differences between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • In the offender release sample, there is a consistent downward trend in re-arrests, reconvictions and re-incarcerations over time similar to that observed in the trend study, except in 1995 when all measures spiked to a high for that period.
  • Re-arrests for violent crime (whether sexual or not) also declined steadily over the same period, resulting in a significant difference between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on community tenure (i.e., time to first re-arrest).
  • Megan’s Law showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses.
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on the type of sexual re-offense or first time sexual offense (still largely child molestation/incest).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.
  • Sentences received prior to Megan’s Law were nearly twice as long as those received after Megan’s Law was passed, but time served was approximately the same.
  • Significantly fewer sexual offenders have been paroled after the implementation of Megan’s Law than before (this is largely due to changes in sentencing).
  • Costs associated with the initial implementation as well as ongoing expenditures continue to grow over time. Start up costs totaled $555,565 and current costs (in 2007) totaled approximately 3.9 million dollars for the responding counties.
  • Given the lack of demonstrated effect of Megan’s Law on sexual offenses, the growing costs may not be justifiable.

Authors: Kristen Zgoba, Ph.D.; Philip Witt, Ph.D.; Melissa Dalessandro, M.S.W.; Bonita Veysey, Ph.D.

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