Our hearts go out to the Pennsylvania father who happened to be a registrant and who missed the birth of his third child for no reason other than the fact that he was a registrant. We can all put ourselves in this guy’s shoes and imagine the sense of devastation and embarrassment he must have felt when told he couldn’t attend the birth of his child and then to be escorted out of the hospital by security when he hadn’t done anything.
As I try to make some sense out of this, it occurs to me that it’s the flaw in Meghan’s Law that’s partially to blame.
A flaw that allowed “non-qualified” agents without any information to decide whether someone on the registry was “a risk to the general public.” As I read Meghan’s Law it clearly indicates that it is for “the protection of the public from those who present a risk.”
In this case, hospital administrators and hospital security officers decided, knowing only that the man was on the registry, that he was a public risk. This is the kind of “mis-information” that laws such as Meghan’s Law, encourage the public into believing that everyone on the registry is a risk.
I’d venture to guess that neither the hospital administrators nor the security officers had any kind of professional degrees that would have qualified them to make a determination as to whether or not this father was a risk to anyone in the hospital. The only thing they were aware of was that he was a registrant and they only knew that because he alerted them to that fact as he had been advised by his parole officer and counselor.
I’m not certain as to why his counselor and P.O. advised him to ALERT the hospital that he was there? Is there some PA. law that requires a registrant to alert hospitals if they are on the premises? If so, then where else do they need to ALERT authorities that they are on the premises, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, movie theaters, stores? Is there a list of those places that require ALERTING? Unless the hospital has some specific posted written rule against allowing registrants on the premises, this ALERTING requirement seemed absurd.
By all outward appearances it seems that this father was being “compelled” by his P.O and counselor to ALERT the hospital that he was A) a registrant and B) therefore, “a risk to the public.”
Meghan’s Law is flawed.
The law was passed when grieving parents and those legislators who supported them didn’t want to see another child die at the hands of a child abductor, a child molester or a murderer.
The problem, not all registrants are child abductors, child molesters or murderers.
Not all registrants are or ever were “a public risk”.
And, neither hospital administrators nor hospital security guards are qualified to determine a registrant’s risk, especially when that registrant has done nothing illegal and is on hospital premises for a legitimate reason, such as the birth of their child.