2009-02-06 / Top Stories

Law Aims To Protect Kids From Sex Offenders

By Nicholas Briano

State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Long Island State Senator Craig Johnson are proposing statewide legislation aimed at keeping sex offenders from living anywhere near New York State schools, parks, or day care centers.

The law would prohibit a registered sex offender from living within 1,000 feet of those facilities anywhere in the state, which currently lacks any specific residency requirement for sex offenders.

In addition, any offender in violation of the law will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, allowing the presiding judge to mandate up to one year of prison. Subsequent offenses after the first will be classified as a Class D felony, allowing for up to seven years of prison.

"Myself and Senator Johnson are both parents, and we understand the importance of getting our laws right so that no child is placed in harm's way," Smith said.

The legislation is currently in the Senate's Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections. The 1,000 feet near a school would equate to about a one street block radius around the school, park, or day care.

"There is no state law, no residency requirement for sexual offenders," Janine Kava, a spokesperson for the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), told The Wave last year. "Several counties and cities have their own regulations, but there is no state law."

Convicted sexual offenders are supervised while they are on parole, and their parole may well set residency requirements, but once their parole ends those specific requirements are lifted.

A check of the DCJS's website shows that nearly 30 percent of the Rockaway peninsula's 55 registered level 2 and level 3 sexual offenders live within 1,000 feet of the more than 20 school institutions in the area.

In New York City the police department,which, in Rockaway, means the officers of the 100 and 101 Precincts, are responsible for keeping track of registered sexual offenders on the registry, and of notifying neighborhood schools when there is an offender living in the schools' nearby thebuilding. Schools then typically notify parents of the possible threat by sending home flyers with students, but there are still no legal requirements for the schools to follow this procedure.

Registered sex offenders can be searched by address, name or zip code by logging onto the DCJS website, which can be found at criminaljustice. state.ny.us.

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