Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon) today helped launch a statewide petition drive in an attempt to force the Assembly majority to act on civil confinement legislation and other measures designed to further protect New York’s children from dangerous sexual predators.
Civil confinement would allow judges to order the worst sex offenders held in secure mental health facilities beyond their prison release dates if, upon evaluation, there is significant reason to believe they may strike again. Under current law, sexually violent predators are freed when their sentences are finished despite the strong possibility they will offend again.
"I urge Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly majority to move this legislation to the floor of the Assembly for a vote during the 2005 legislative session," Oaks said. "It is our duty to our state’s women and children to keep them safe from convicted sexual predators who are extremely likely to strike again."
Included on the petition are proposals to strengthen New York’s Megan’s Law by restricting sex offenders’ access to schools, monitoring their movements through Global Positioning System satellites, providing more information about sexual predators to communities and requiring lifetime registration of offenders on the state Sex Offender Registry.
Oaks noted that, in the absence of stronger statewide laws to protect children from convicted sex offenders, numerous localities are considering or have established more stringent regulations to keep track of convicted predators.
For example, noted Oaks, Binghamton city officials recently enacted a law preventing sex offenders from living or being within a quarter-mile of a school, day care center, playground or park. In Westchester County, satellite-tracking devices are used to monitor freed sex offenders, and Albany County legislators are pushing for use of a similar system. Saratoga County government officials appointed a task force to more effectively publicize sex offenders living in the county after four registered sex offenders were found living in a motel near a housing development and a community center.
Oaks and his Assembly minority colleagues have been urging a civil confinement law since 1993, and a similar bill has repeatedly passed the state Senate with bipartisan support (the vote was 58-2 this year). Gov. George Pataki said he would sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of civil confinement. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have civil confinement laws.
Along with civil confinement, Oaks and his Assembly minority colleagues also propose the following measures to strengthen Megan’s Law:
- Prevent convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or school grounds (A.1654)
- Expand information available about sex offenders on the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Web site to include information on all registered offenders (A.1701)
- Require law enforcement authorities to release information on Level 2 and 3 sex offenders – those at the highest risk of committing additional crimes – to vulnerable populations in the community (A.1654).
Oaks is asking supporters of civil confinement legislation and a stronger Megan’s Law to call Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office at (518) 455-3791; Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, chair of the Assembly Codes Committee, at (518) 455-4477; and Assemblyman Peter Rivera, chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, at (518) 455-5102, and urge them to pass the legislation.
Contact Oaks’ district office at (315) 946-5166 for information on how to sign the petition calling on the Assembly majority to act on civil confinement legislation and other public safety measures.