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Preliminary Step Towards Evaluating the Impact of Megan's Law: A Trend Analysis of Sexual Offenses in New Jersey from 1985 to 2005

NCJ Number
Justice Research and Policy Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Dated: 2008 Pages: 1-18
Bonita M. Veysey; Kristen Zgoba; Melissa Dalessandro
Date Published
18 pages
This study examined the impact of Megan's Law from 1985 to 2005.
This study examines the trend of sexual offense rates reported by law enforcement agencies in the 21 counties of New Jersey from 1985 through 2005. New Jersey was chosen because it was the birthplace of Megan's Law. This study is one component of a larger National Institute of Justice-funded study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of Megan's Law. In this preliminary step the authors attempt to fill in missing information concerning the pattern of sexual offense rates in New Jersey, while comparing them to drug offense rates and non-sexually based offending rates over the 21-year time frame. This study focuses on four questions: (1) What is the pattern of sexual offense rates in New Jersey for the 10 years prior to the passage of Megan's Law and the 10 years after? (2) How do these rates compare to the rates of drug offenses and non-sexually based offending in New Jersey for the same period? (3) Are there pattern differences across the 21 New Jersey counties? (4) Are there significant change points in the pattern of sexual offense rates at the State or county level that coincide with the implementation of Megan's Law? Results indicate that New Jersey experienced a consistently downward trend in sexual offense rates, with a significant change point in 1994. In the majority of counties, sexual offense rates were higher prior to 1994 (the year Megan's Law was passed) and were lowest after 1995. While sexual offense rates have rebounded somewhat, they are far lower than in the 1980s and early 1990s. (Published Abstract)