Children Supersede Molester's RightsCrimes committed...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 19, 1995

Children Supersede Molester's Rights

Crimes committed against innocent children have a special degree of horror attached to them.

Last July, the nation was horrified. Once again, a brutal crime was committed against a child. Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey child, was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender. The police and the community were unaware that the house across the street from Megan was home to three convicted pedophiles. According to Maureen Kanka, Megan's mother, the New Jersey police described the situation as "a time bomb about to explode." In response, . . . the New Jersey legislature joined other state law-making bodies and enacted what has come to be known as "Megan's law."

The law is composed of two parts. The first part required sex offenders to register their address with the local police upon release from prison and annually thereafter for 10 years. The information is then reported to the FBI and local law enforcement agencies in the vicinity of the offender's residence. If Senate Bill 418 is enacted, Maryland will become the 41st state to adopt a sex offender registration law. . . .

The second part of the bill requires community notification of sex offender registration information to schools, licensed day care facilities and youth organizations. Where the risk is high that the offender will commit more crimes, notification will be provided to the public. . . . Twelve states have community notification. . . .

I see the community notification as absolutely essential to protecting children from sex offenders. The registration part without the community notification section keeps law enforcement agencies informed of the sex offender's whereabouts, but it does not inform parents in the vicinity that a convicted sex offender is living in their midst. . . .

Frankly, I am more concerned with protecting the lives of vulnerable children than I am with safeguarding the privacy rights of convicted sex offenders. . . .

Edward J. Kasemeyer

Annapolis

The writer is a state senator representing the 12th Legislative District, in Howard and Baltimore counties.

Help Perpetrators

Thank you for publishing my letter on Feb. 19 and allowing me to publicly support the owners of Uniphoto in the Harper's Choice Village Center, the targets of recent religiously motivated hate incidents.

However, I was disappointed at omission of the portion of my letter requesting concern for the perpetrators of these despicable incidents, as it leaves my views somewhat misrepresented. The owners of Uniphoto are respected and productive citizens of Harper's Choice who are being helped to recover from this incident by a huge outpouring of community support. It is my guess, however, that the perpetrators will not be helped so easily or quickly, and that they may need our concern even more.

True justice will not be served until the perpetrators are dealt with in such a way that will enable them to truly recognize the reprehensibility of their actions, to feel genuine regret for their behavior, and to value and participate constructively in our diverse community.

Rebecca L. Johnson

Columbia

The City that Signs

Almost a year ago, a coalition of Columbia residents, concerned with governance of the new town, was formed. We consulted with experts and with residents of other communities involved in the process of incorporating their areas into cities. We found that a change in the governance of Columbia had been studied on a regular basis ever since the new town was planned. After this preliminary study, we concluded that the time for action has arrived.

We believe that it is now time to make Columbia a real "city" with its own political identity. We residents need an open, democratic and responsive government. We need "one person, one vote" elections. We want to be able to deduct as taxes the Columbia Association's annual charge (CPRA or lien) on our property.

Coalition volunteers were at many of Columbia's polling places during the primary and general elections last fall getting signatures on a petition to get Columbia's incorporation on the ballot. Until the cold weather came, we were also out on weekends at public libraries, shopping centers and the post office.

We appreciate the support of all those who have signed the petition, those who have called to express their support, and particularly those who have helped gather signatures.

If you are a registered Columbia voter and you have not yet signed the petition, you may do so. . . . We have about 3,000 signatures and need more than 10,000. We need your help in getting this issue on the ballot.

Jim Clark

Columbia

The writer is with the Columbia Municipal League.

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