By the end of 2006 there will be more than 3,500 convicted sex offenders freely roaming New Yorkís cities and streets. My Assembly minority colleagues and I met earlier this week to discuss this looming problem. In 1996, Meganís Law was created. The bill included a provision requiring lower-level sex offenders to register for the state Sex Offender Registry during the first 10 years after their court convictions. However, on January 21, that statute expires; on the same day, nearly 170 Level 1 and 2 sex offenders will immediately be dropped from the registry.
If that isnít scary enough, by the time our children leave school for summer vacation, an estimated 2,827 convicted offenders would no longer be registered. My children are grown up, but the prospect of having grandchildren in a world where perverts can roam freely without being tracked by the authorities frightens me.
It has been proven that individuals who commit sex crimes are some of the most difficult offenders to reform or rehabilitate. Their recidivism rate is exceedingly higher than perpetrators of most other types of crime. That is why the registry is an extremely important tool for families, teachers and law enforcement personnel. We really need to keep a public database of where offenders live, work and travel.
A new bill must pass before the expiration deadline, and I am joining my Assembly minority colleagues in demanding an effective measure be approved. The bill must allow for the lifetime registration of all sex offenders, not just Level 3 predators, as is currently mandated. The governor and state Senate favor similar proposals, but we also need the support of the Assembly majority.
I cannot think of a reason why anyone would not be embracing the opportunity to act on this important issue. As far as Iím concerned, anyone who commits a sex crime, especially against a child, should lose all constitutional rights.
In the upcoming session, I vow to protect our families by fighting for a stronger Meganís Law. I want everyone to know this is not a topic to be taken lightly. We must track these criminals; if we donít, there is nothing to stop a convicted offender released from prison from living next to a school and having easy access to our children.