Magnarelli: Families Deserve Continued Efforts to Keep Them Safe from Sexual Predators

Sexual predators inflict unspeakable pain and suffering that a victim carries with them the rest of their life. As a father, I know we must keep our families safe. New York has taken significant steps to strengthen sex offender laws by providing life sentences for certain child sex offenders, increasing penalties for statutory rapes, taking steps to ensure victims of “date rape” are not further victimized by the court, and enhancing the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act, known as “Megan’s Law.” While these efforts help to protect our families, our work is not finished.

My colleges and I are strongly committed to stopping sexual predators who we know will strike again. That is why this week we passed historic civil commitment legislation which will keep sexual predators off the streets even after they finish their prison terms (A.6162). The state Attorney General can decide to seek civil commitment of individual who have been determined by a state committee of mental health professionals to suffer from a mental abnormality. If confinement is not ordered, the sex offender will be under strict and intensive supervision and treatment.

Predators will stop at nothing to lure children for the purpose of sexual abuse, even use the Internet. That is why I sponsored legislation that strengthens law against using the Internet to solicit minors for sexual activity (A.2012). Current law bans communications that depict nudity used to solicit underage children, but this legislation will also ban sexually graphic words transmitted over the Internet as well. A sex offender can do as much damage to a child through sexually explicit words as with images, and we must prosecute these predators severely in either case. The Senate has joined us in passing this legislation and it is currently awaiting Governor Spitzer’s approval.

While Megan’s Law is one of the most effective tools available to keep tabs on sexual predators, there are still ways which the law can be strengthened. I sponsored legislation which would require police to visit the residence of any sex offender subject to Megan’s Law who has not filed a required periodic visitation form to ensure the offender’s whereabouts are known (A.1179). I also support electronic monitoring of high-risk sex offenders whose crimes involve children (A.3581).

It is vital that we keep sexual predators off the streets of New York, and current on the sex offender registry when they do re-enter the community. We must do all we can to deter these heinous crimes through an effective civil commitment process, and strong measures to stop predators who stalk our children.