FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        VAWA
MONDAY, APRIL 7, 1997                              (202) 514-2008
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department has issued
guidelines to the states to assist in implementing Megan's Law
and the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually
Violent Offender Registration Act.  The guidelines were published
on Friday, April 4, 1997, in the Federal Register.

     "These guidelines provide minimum national standards for
states to follow in developing community notification systems for
sex offenders," said Attorney General Janet Reno.  "President
Clinton and I want to ensure that members of the public can
protect themselves and their families by obtaining information
about registered offenders."  

     The Wetterling Act, encouraging states to adopt effective
registration systems for released sex offenders, passed as part
of President Clinton's 1994 Crime Act.  In May of 1996, the
President took the next step by signing the federal Megan's Law. 
Megan's Law amends the Wetterling Act to require states to
release relevant information concerning registered child
molesters and sexually violent offenders when necessary to
protect the public.  

     The Guidelines make it clear that:

     --   States must release information about registered sex
          offenders to the public, not just to law enforcement
          agencies, other governmental or non-governmental
          organizations, prospective employers, or the victims of
          the offenders' crimes.  

     --   States can't release registration information on a
          purely discretionary basis.  Information must be
          released to members of the public as necessary to
          protect the public from registered sex offenders.  

     --   "Community notification" programs must apply both to
          child molesters and other sexually violent offenders.

     --   States may comply by adopting an "affirmative" approach
          to community notification (for example, by notifying
          neighbors about the presence of "high risk offenders")
          or by making sex offender registration information
          accessible to the public on request (for example, by
          making registration lists open for inspection by the
          public or by establishing call-in numbers through which
          the public can learn whether an individual is a
          registered sex offender).

     The guidelines also note that states may impose the new
registration requirements on offenders convicted prior to the
establishment of their registration system.  In addition, the
guidelines note that offenses consisting of consensual acts
between adults are not among the offenses for which registration
is required under the Act. 

     "The Administration is committed to helping states adopt
strong community notification programs," said Bonnie Campbell,
Director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women
Office.  "We will continue to encourage and provide assistance to
states in their efforts to comply with Megan's Law."

     The Justice Department has participated extensively in
litigation defending the validity of state community notification
laws and will continue to do so in the future, Campbell noted.

     The guidelines can be found on the internet at the Violence
Against Women Office's site at: "".

     Comments must be received within 60 days of Friday's
publication in Federal Register.  Comments may be mailed to
Bonnie J. Campbell, Director, Violence Against Women Office, U.S.
Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,
DC 20530, 202-616-8894.