Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D - Scarsdale) announced today that the New York State Assembly and Senate passed legislation she authored (A9855, S6649) to increase the probation period for the crime of public lewdness to up to three years. Classified under article 245 of the penal law as "offences against public sensibilities," public lewdness crimes include among others flashing and masturbating in public. Currently, public lewdness is classified as a B misdemeanor with a probation period that is limited to one year.
"This legislation gives judges the discretion to sentence from one to up to three years of probation for this disturbing crime," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. "Requiring an extended period of probation is the best way to ensure that specialized mental health treatment, usually recommended during probation, will be successful in stemming repeat offences and preventing more serious crimes in the future."
A significant number of sex offenders admit to having committed acts of public lewdness early in their lives. The goal of treatment is to reduce recidivism, thereby lowering the risk that the offender will victimize additional innocent people.
The Westchester County Protect the Kids Committee and the Westchester Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, based on the experience of probation officers and treatment experts, strongly supports this legislation.
"We thank Assemblywoman Paulin for her sponsorship of this important legislation," said Westchester County Executive Andy Spano. "This was a key recommendation of the Protect the Kids Committee and a priority in the county's State Legislative Program this year. Because public lewdness is often the first step toward more serious offenses, we believe this change will allow for greater oversight of those who may be emerging sex offenders. Again, we thank Assemblywoman Paulin, as well as, the entire Assembly and Senate, for doing what is in the best interest of our children."
"The Protect the Kids Committee was pleased to work with Assemblywoman Paulin on this legislation, which will help probation officials and judges better protect kids from sex offenders," said Rocco Pozzi, Westchester County Probation Commissioner and Co-Chair of the County's Protect the Kids Committee.
"The Westchester Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect is delighted with Assemblywoman Paulin’s spearheading legislation in response to our request to strengthen laws that address public lewdness," said Dr. Barbara Bernstein, Co-Chair of Westchester Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect. "Task Force members recommended an extended period of probation to allow for a longer course of specialized out patient treatment, which is as an important tool for treating the individual as well as for reducing the number of new victims."