Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kanka family sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area.
On a warm July evening in 1994, Megan was lured into a neighbor's house in
Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The neighbor was a twice-convicted sex offender and told Megan he wanted to show her a puppy. The offender lived right across the street from the Kanka residence. However the police were prohibited from disclosing the presence of this child molester because at the time the law did not allow the release of sex offender information to the public.
As a result of Megan's death, the longstanding legal requirement prohibiting law enforcement from advising the public of serious and high-risk sex offenders living in a community was brought to national attention. On May 17, 1996, President Clinton signed the federal Megan's Law (H.R. 2137), which "required the release of relevant information to protect the public from sexually violent offenders."
In California, Assemblywoman Barbara Alby authored California's version of Megan's Law with Attorney General Dan Lundgren as the measure's sponsor. Governor Pete Wilson signed Megan's Law for California. This law allows, for the first time, public access to information on serious and high-risk sex offenders.