As parents, we want to ensure our children are safe at all times. However, we cannot always be there to watch over them.
I have been at the forefront of a battle in Albany over the past year to fight harder for the protection of our children from sexually violent predators. My Assembly minority colleagues and I are fighting to extend Megan’s Law to ensure information about thousands of Level 1 and 2 sex offenders remains on the state Sex Offender Registry.
The federal government’s Megan’s Law, enacted in 1996, resulted from the rape and murder of a seven-year-old New Jersey girl by a known child molester who lived across the street from her family. The law authorizes local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living, working or visiting in their communities. Congress amended the law to require every state develop some procedure for notifying the public when a sex offender is released into the community.
New York’s version of Megan’s Law was signed into law by Gov. George Pataki and took effect January 21, 1996 with the help of State Senator Dean Skelos. One of its provisions established a Sex Offender Registry within the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The registry aids local law enforcement agencies by requiring convicted sex offenders to register their information so the public may know about certain sexual predators living in various communities throughout the state.
Sex offenders in New York are classified according to their risk level; that is, their propensity to repeat their sexually violent crimes once they finish serving their prison sentences. Level 1 consists of low-risk offenders, 2 is moderate risk and 3 is high risk – considered the most dangerous of predators and the most likely to offend again. Judges determine whether an offender is designated a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender. Level 1 and 2 offenders must register their background information with the registry for 10 years after their convictions, while Level 3 predators remain on the list for the rest of their lives.
This part of the registry is now a key issue for the 2006 legislative session as the 10-year registration requirement lapses January 21. This will result in some sex offenders no longer being required to post their information on the registry.
My work in Albany is focused on legislation promoted by my Assembly minority conference that would require all convicted sex offenders to register for life and to establish a psychiatric center where the most dangerous predators – the Level 3 criminals – would be confined to ensure our children’s safety. This is known as civil confinement and would allow the Level 3 offenders to receive proper mental-health treatment.
It is my mission to see these policies passed and signed into law.
Information about sex offenders who may be living or working in your neighborhood is available by:
- Calling toll-free (800) 262-3257 (the offender’s name, exact address, date of birth, and driver license or Social Security number must be presented by the caller)
- Accessing the subdirectory of Level 3 sex offenders on the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Web site at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us
- Contacting local law enforcement agencies.