The occurrences of crimes often open our eyes to the things we have not yet experienced. While all violent crimes are an awful part of our society, some have garnered so much attention and controversy that new laws and bills have been passed with the belief that had these laws been enacted, these crimes probably would not have occurred. The following horrible crimes have prompted the creation of new laws:
The Amber Alert, a law signed in April of 2003, is a child abduction alert that exists in several countries. It is issued when a child abduction is suspected to have occurred. The alerts are distributed throughout radio stations, satellite radio, television stations, and electronic traffic billboards and provide as much information as possible related to the abduction. The system was created after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996.
Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act
This act is a statute that was signed into law byin July of 2006 and mandates a national database of convicted child molesters. This law puts sex offenders into different tiers and requires the most dangerous offenders to update their whereabouts every three months and less dangerous offenders to do so every 6 months and longer. The law was passed after 6-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted from a mall in Florida in 1981 and subsequently found murdered.
This law, federally known as the Sexual Offender Act of 1994, requires law enforcement agencies to make information concerning registered sex offenders public record, which usually includes their name, address, crime, and picture. In addition, the law requires such offenders to inform local law enforcement of any changes in address or employment. The law came about following the rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka by Jesse Timmendequas. He had moved into Megan’s neighborhood after he was given a suspended sentence in the attempted aggravated sexual assault of a 5-year-old.
This law, which was signed into Congress in October of 2000, pushed for the creation of a National Center for Missing Adults. The law came about as a result of the disappearance of 18-year-old Kristen Modafferi, who was last seen leaving her shift at the coffee shop where she worked. When her parents called the police to report her missing, 23 days had passed since her 18th birthday, which made her an adult. Also, there were no funds to assist in the search and she was not featured in any of the notices in child-search organizations.
Matthew Shepard Act
The Matthew Shepard Act was signed into law by the President in October of 2009. The act, which expands a previous hate crime law, includes crimes driven by a victim’s perceived gender or sexual orientation. The law came about following the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student, who was badly beaten, murdered, and left chained to a fence because he was gay.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. It was fueled by the dragging death of a 49-year-old black man in Texas. James Byrd, Jr. was beaten, tied to the back of a truck by his ankles, and dragged to his death by two well-known white supremacists and another man. Because the defendants had white supremacist tattoos and openly spoke of white supremacy, the murder was considered a hate crime, and in turn, sparked another part of the act.
Matt’s Law is a California law that allows for felony charges when a hazing ritual leads to severe injuries or death. Before the law was enacted, hazing in California (even leading to death) was a misdemeanor. The law states that unstructured or unaffiliated fraternities are to be held liable regardless of whether or not they are student affiliations. The law was enacted after 21-year-old Matt Carrington died during a brutal hazing ritual in the basement of a fraternity house in California.
This 2008 California law extends and protects the legal rights of crime victims and has had a huge impact on the length of parole denials. The principal leader and sponsor of the law, Henry Nicholas, is an advocate for victims’ rights. Nicholas’ sister, Marsy, was a senior at UC Santa Barbara in 1983 when she was stalked and brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend.
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
The 1994 Brady Bill requires federal background checks on firearm purchases in the US. The bill was named after James Brady, an ex-assistant of President, who was shot during an attempted assassination of the president. The shooter, John Hinckley, bought the gun in a Texas pawn shop and had been arrested four days before in an attempt to board a plane with three handguns and ammo. In addition, Hinckley had been under psychiatric care prior to buying the gun.
USA Patriot Act
This act was signed into law in October of 2001 and greatly decreased restrictions placed on law enforcement agencies’ abilities to intercept e-mails, records, phone conversations, and anything else that they needed to keep tabs on as a result of suspected terrorism. The act came about following the September 11th attacks in 2001 in which approximately 3,000 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured. Four US planes were hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists and deliberately crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a rural area outside of Pennsylvania.