A Dangerous Catch-and-Release Program

Sex offenders are closer than you think
November 7, 2005

In Geneva the virtues of two young female college students were taken from them after they were sexually assaulted almost 20 years ago. The man responsible for these heinous crimes, convicted sex offender Bronson Frank, is now out of prison. As a Level 3 sex offender – the classification reserved for the most dangerous of sex offenders and those most likely to repeat their crimes – intends to move to Canandaigua, where he will have to notify police every 90 days of his home address. Is that enough?

What happens to convicted sex offenders after they are released? They often move into our communities where, once again, the temptation to harass, molest, rape or even kill the innocent is there.

Civil confinement is something that I have been pushing along with my Assembly minority colleagues for a long time. It would allow judges to order the most dangerous convicted sex offenders confined to secure mental-health facilities, staffed with professionals, after their release from prison if they are deemed threats to strike again. A similar bill has passed the state Senate several times with bipartisan support, and Gov. George Pataki says he would sign the legislation as soon as it comes across his desk.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have similar laws on the books that were challenged and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Allow me to provide some details. There are sixteen sex offenders living in the city of Canandaigua. Geneva is home to six sex offenders, Seneca Falls hosts four, and Waterloo residents have six living among them. In the five counties that make up the 129th Assembly District, there are 246 registered Level 3 sex offenders.

Every one of these sex offenders has the potential to strike again. They are released without regard to the health and welfare of the innocent people who will be forced to live near them. The one place that dangerous sex offenders should live is in a cell.

As concerned parents and residents, we must protect our children. More than 15,000 New Yorkers statewide have signed a petition calling for enactment of a civil confinement law. The children and women of New York deserve the chance to live without fear of being victims of sex crimes. Bronson Frank will be living only a few miles from the local school. Are we sure he is not a threat?

This is a good bill that we must pass, and as your assemblyman, I pledge to not rest until it is. It is time to call on all legislators to demand that civil confinement legislation be passed into law for the protection of our women and children. This law isn’t about politics, it’s about protecting lives.