Assembly Acts on Megan's Law Legislation; Civil Confinement, Tougher Penalty Measures Advance Through Assembly
Sex Offender Registry Legislation Agreed Upon by Bipartisan Conference Committee
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Correction Committee Chair Jeffrion Aubry today announced the Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation that strengthens Megan's Law. The legislation ensures that the most dangerous sex offenders are never removed from New York's registry.
Assembly bill 9472, which was the result of a bipartisan joint legislative conference committee, significantly revamps registration requirements for sex offenders on the state's sex offender registry. Provisions of the bill will require lifetime registration for Level 3 offenders, and persons designated as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender. They will not be able to petition to be removed from the registry. Under current law, level 3 offenders, considered the most likely to re-offend, could petition the court to be removed from the registry. The legislation negotiated by the conference committee eliminates the possibility that these high-risk offenders could ever come off the registry.
The measure would require Level 2 ("moderate-risk) offenders to register for life. These persons may petition to be removed from the registry only after 30 years on the registry. Level 1 ("low-risk") offenders must register for 20 years.
"Since the enactment of Megan's Law 10 years ago, the Legislature has acted repeatedly to strengthen the statute. The legislation being signed today is necessary to ensure public safety while federal legislation is being enacted," said Silver (D-Manhattan).
"Megan's Law has been an effective tool in keeping communities informed about the potential danger lurking in our neighborhoods. This law will help keep important information available and empower communities to keep the threat of that danger reduced," said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, the bill sponsor and co-chair of the conference committee.
The enactment of federal legislation may require further adjustment of the state's Megan's Law requirements. Silver noted the federal government is currently working to create a national Megan's Law registry. Provisions in A.9472 recognize future revisions to Megan's Law may be necessary to meet new federal standards.
"This legislation seeks to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to better protect their families. It strengthens New York's sexual predator laws even more," said Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Codes Committee and a member of the conference committee.
"The action being taken today is an important step in increasing public safety. We remain prepared to respond to likely Congressional action that would require New York's law to conform with revised federal standards," said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Judiciary Committee and a member of the conference committee.
"I am proud to have worked on this agreement in a bi-partisan way. I am confident that the extended and enhanced Megan's Law registry will prevent predators from disappearing into our community, disguised as friendly neighbors, waiting to prey on their next victim," said Assemblyman David Koon (D-I Perinton), a member of the conference committee.
"This important legislation keeps sex offenders from being removed from the state registry after the initial registration period expires, beginning January 21," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The Assembly remains committed to acting on effective proposals aimed at protecting public safety."
Civil Confinement and Tougher Penalties Advance
The lawmakers noted that additional components of the Assembly's Child Safety and Sexual Predator Punishment and Confinement Strategy are advancing through the Assembly committee process. Assembly bill 8939-A would provide for longer prison sentences, including up to life sentences for the most heinous sex crimes. The bill would elevate the current Class B felonies of first degree rape, first degree criminal sexual act (formerly sodomy), first degree aggravated sexual abuse and first degree course of sexual conduct against a child to a newly created Class A-II felony sentence of 10-25 years to life. Assembly bill 9282 provides for potential lifetime civil commitment of sexual predators after they finish their prison sentences, if a jury decides they are sex predators likely to repeat their crimes. Both bills will be before the full Assembly soon.
Other elements of the Assembly's Child Safety and Sexual Predator Punishment and Confinement Strategy would provide for mandatory treatment for incarcerated sex offenders, and enhanced services for victims of sexual assault.
"This legislation continues the Assembly's successful efforts for more than a decade to improve public safety. The Assembly has taken the lead in ensuring that sound public policy is formulated in a public process with the goal of implementing comprehensive, effective legislation. Garnering expert opinion as well as giving citizens a greater voice in crafting critical legislation continues the Assembly Majority's on-going efforts to enact solutions that incorporate insights gained through this open process. On crucial public policy issues, such as developing the state budget, landmark government reforms and Indian gaming legislation, the Assembly has relied on these substantive public discussions in responding to the will of the people," said Aubry (D-Queens), sponsor of the bill.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to work in a bipartisan fashion to implement policies that benefit communities across New York State. I fully expect to work with the Senate and governor to make this plan state law and a signature accomplishment of the 2006 session," said Silver.
New York State Assembly
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