Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) announced she is authoring legislation that will amend Megan’s Law to prohibit low-and moderate- risk (Level 1 and Level 2) sex offenders from being dropped from the New York state sex offender registry, as well as sponsoring legislation that will better allow law enforcement officials to track registered sex offenders (A.7835, A.7707).
"Letting sex offenders off the hook and allowing them to roam undetected throughout our communities is a risk that I, as a mother and a grandmother, am not willing to take," Gunther said. "Our families and children need all the safety that we can provide for them. By strengthening Megan’s Law, we can keep sexual predators away from our families."
Currently, a loophole in Megan’s Law allows Level 1 and Level 2 sex offenders to be removed from the sex offender registry after ten years. According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, on January 21, 2006, 207 offenders’ names will be erased from the registry. Another 3,288 Level 1 and Level 2 sex offenders will come off the list statewide throughout 2006. Gunther’s legislation will give New York families the information they need to protect themselves and their children from becoming victims of sex crimes.
"Today in Orange and Sullivan counties there are 313 Level 1 and Level 2 registered sex offenders whose names will eventually be taken off the registry," Gunther said. "That’s 313 sex predators who will be free to relocate to communities where he or she could possibly commit the same crimes. With this loophole, it’s impossible for the uninformed public to know exactly what danger is lurking in their neighborhoods."
Gunther is also sponsoring a bill that penalizes a sex offender who does not promptly contact the Sex Offender Registry to register or annually verify his or her address (A.7707). If the registrant does not comply with the required registration or verification process, the offender will be prosecuted – for a first time offense the offender will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, and a second will result in a Class D felony charge.
"New York families should not have to worry about unregistered, free-roaming sex offenders in their communities – the unknown factor must be eliminated," Gunther said.