Megan Kankas Case
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The today’s world seems to be going on the verges of two extremes: On the one hand, a powerful scientific and technological upsurge which enables citizens of different countries to use such things which would be easily considered pure magic just a couple of centuries ago or at least unreachable heights of progress few decades ago; and on the other hand, the decreasing level of morality: The more material things get developed, the more moral values regress. One of the most outrageous diversions of our time is the mental degeneration which makes people abuse children. A good example is the murder of Megan Kanka which took place on the 29th of July, 1994, in Hamilton New Jersey. The seven-year old girl was violently raped and then murdered by Jesse Timmendequas who was her neighbor. To attract the girl to his house, the convict invited Megan to come and play with the puppy in his house. This ferocious murder became a turning point for establishing the law on the national level which enforces disclosure of location details to the public of registered sex offenders. The law obtained the name of "Megan's Law". The family of the murdered girl founded the charitable organization, the Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation, which aims at preventing similar crimes.
The murderer, Jesse K. Timmendequas, was born on the 15th of April, 1961. Despite the fact that he had two preceding convictions for sexual abuse of young girls, he was living among other people without the slightest shade of past crimes cast upon his name. In 1979 he recognized that he tried to sexually abuse a five-year-old child in Piscataway, New Jersey. This pledge led him to the suspended sentence however, after rejecting to attend the counseling the convict was taken to the Middlesex Adult Correctional Center where he was supposed to spend nine months of rehabilitative education.
The past experience did not teach the criminal to behave properly, and in 1981, Jesse Timmendequas was incarcerated for six years at the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center due to the abuse of a seven-year-old girl in Avenel, New Jersey. As the report of the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center shows, the convict participated little in the program which could help him to get rid of his mental divergences. One of the therapists he had to deal with, described Timmendequas as a “whiner” as practically all the time the patient was sleeping, probably seeing his murderous dreams come to life in his naps. More important information was shared by another doctor who was sure that Jesse Timmendequas would abuse more children as soon as he is released from the facility. Yet, the therapist did not think that he would be able to commit murder. In any case, these words were not taken into consideration as seriously as it should be, however, they became prophetic.
In 1994, Timmendequas tempted Megan Kanka to come to his house where he raped the girl onto a dresser. After this he simply smothered Megan with his belt. In order to get rid of the body, the convict put the body into his truck where he abused the motionless child again and moved it to a wooden toy chest. He drove to Mercer County Park and dumped the girl there. As soon as the investigators started to look for the girl the next day, Timmendequas pleaded guilty and showed the place where the child was hidden.
Hair, bloodstains, and samples of fiber together with the bite mark on the murderer’s hand that matched the teeth of Megan were the good proof for the court. Timmendequas was accused of four sexual abuses, two murders that were committed during the felony as well as the kidnapping. The decision of the court was obvious: Death, however it was never implemented into life despite the pleas of the family of the murdered girl. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the sentence on appeal and Jesse Timmendequas stayed on Death Row of New Jersey until the 17th of December, 2007. That year, the New Jersey Legislature canceled the death penalty of the state and Timmendequas was sentenced to life imprisonment without any chance of parole.
The New Jersey General Assembly passed a couple of bills introduced by Paul Kramer one month after Megan’s murder which would entail such sex offender registration that the state would possess a database on the offenders, and the community would receive notifications of these criminals (unfortunately, not all states make this information public – in some of them only the police has an access to the complete lists of sex offenders). Kramer’s astonishment did not know measures when a lot of controversies were raised by many politicians who did not want to agree for the implementation of the bills. He stated that Megan Kanka would still live if those bills became law.
In 2007, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was adopted as a law which implemented stricter requirements for registry of sex offenders in all states of the United States (the law can vary a little bit from state to state). The Act obtained a wide recognition and even before being adopted, a couple of sex offenders were indicted according to its principles. The Adam Walsh Act regulates that all sex offenders (child sex offenders in particular) are to be registered with police. Furthermore, the sex offenders must inform the police when they leave prison and start residing in some inhabited area as well as in case they are convicted of any possible crime. The state which does not act according to the regulations of the law has to pay a penalty of 10 % in their Bureau of Justice Assistance.
It is important to note that sex offender registration is applied also to other crimes which do not entail child pornography, rape, or child molestation. In many states across the country (Idaho, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Vermont, Connecticut, Arizona, etc.), urinating, streaking or mooning in public is considered to be a sex offense, unfortunately, some of these states also offered to remove these acts as sex crimes. On the other hand, despite the knowledge of the public about the location of the criminals, no evidence can be found which would certify that it has become safer for children to live in the society.
If to look at the problem from a broader perspective, sex offenders are not only people who do direct actions to abuse children (moreover, it is widely questioned whether it should be considered a sexual crime when 14-17 year-old girls are involved in sexual intercourse as they often agree to it on their own with a good knowledge of what really goes on), but also those who simply observe (for instance, watching pornography or looking at the pictures). The larger part of the child-porn is created with the help of the child sex slave industry. Those individuals who sponsor this menacing trade by buying its products can be considered guilty in the same way as the active sex offenders as they promote the wretchedness and torment of its young victims. Therefore, it is surprising to hear the statements of some people who say that this passive offense is committed without a real victim. Understanding the human psychology it becomes clear how easily people get influenced by the TV programs, movies and multiple advertisements which often persuade them to buy many products they do not even need. Because of this, it is easy to predict the possible impact on the male (75% of all sex crimes) part of the population, namely males who have some mental weaknesses, and the actions which the buyers of such videos may undertake.
Despite the actuality of the problem, it is quite difficult to find any reliable data on the recurring cases of sex crimes. The research conducted a TV channel shows explicitly, that sex offenders are at the top rate of committing again those hideous crimes, however, research conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice states the opposite which is very difficult to believe when learning the histories of such felonies. The Department of Justice research concerns only those convicted sex offenders who were finally freed from incarceration in 1994. Moreover, some of the professionals state that the sex offender registry not only has some flaws but does not help at all. Nowadays, the registry is so cluttered with non sex offenders that all criminals who should be supervised most carefully are lost among all others which frequently appear to be less dangerous. Furthermore, parents think that since there is sex offender registry, there is nothing to worry about which is utterly wrong.
One of the Canadian psychologists who treat sex offenders states that it is not an effective way of eliminating the risk of recidivism by announcing to the public the names of the sex offenders as the first way to commit crime is stress. It seems to be quite clear that the registry does not really help but more hinders the possibility to catch a real threat to the society, mostly due to the numerous suspects who get on the list, however, who do not bear any threat in reality. In addition, the restrictions by the registry which enable police to track the location of the criminal’s residence cause only more problems, because as soon as the offender is homeless, he becomes impossible to track.
According to a survey by the British government the Megan’s Law has many flaws as the harsher restrictions are imposed on the sex offenders who are allowed to live among other citizens, the higher is the level of murders as the rapists would try to get rid of the consequences by killing their victims. Thus, there appear to be only one way – radical actions against those who can fall that low to do the child’s abuse. Castration, life sentence and execution seem to be the most effective, however, the last one still imposes a great deal of danger on the society as the criminal can decide to avenge by murder or some other ferocious ways. Child’s sex offenders seem to not deserve that precious gift which they are given – to live, therefore, it must be better to deprive them of it once and for all.