Senate Moves To Protect Children From Criminals
In a continuing effort to protect New Yorkers, especially innocent children, from becoming victims of violent child abusers and sex offenders, State Senator James L. Seward and Senate Republicans today announced the introduction of "Nixzmary’s Law," legislation that requires a sentence of life without parole for parents or guardians who kill a child. In addition, the Senate today passed 26 bills that will update and strengthen Megan’s Law, including tougher criminal penalties, mandated community notification and GPS tracking of violent sexual predators.
The bill is named after Nixzmary Brown, a seven year old Brooklyn girl who was brutally beaten and left for dead earlier this month. Her mother and stepfather have been charged with her murder.
The senate today passed a comprehensive package of legislation to strengthen and improve Megan’s Law and crack down on dangerous sex offenders who pose a threat to our children and our communities, including the "Eleventh Anniversary, Twenty-First Century Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act" (S.4793-C), sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos (R, Rockville Center), the original author of Megan’s Law eleven years ago, which would strengthen Megan’s Law in 25 ways, including increased penalties, mandated community notification and GPS monitoring of the most dangerous offenders.
The senate "Nixzmary’s Law" legislation would create the crime of aggravated murder of a child. The crime would mandate a sentence of life without parole for the parent, guardian or other person in a position of trust, who abuses and tortures a child under the age of 14, causing the death of the child or intentionally causes the death of a child.
"Everyone in the state was shocked and horrified by the brutal, tragic death of Nixzmary Brown," Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. "The bill we will act on would close a loophole that allows violent child abusers to escape life without parole when they cause the death of a child. In Nixzmary’s case, the murderers could be eligible for parole after serving only 15 years in prison. This bill recognizes that the crimes committed against Nixzmary were so atrocious and depraved that the killers should never be allowed out of prison."
"The murder of Nixzmary Brown cries out for a response that reflects the outrage and concern of every decent New Yorker. This bill is that response. It clearly says that people who commit the most horrific crime imaginable, murdering a child whose care is entrusted to them, deserve to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives," Senator Raymond A. Meier (R-C, Western), co-sponsor of the legislation, said.
"As a former prosecutor and deputy chief of the Queens County Homicide Bureau, I know firsthand the horrific nature of these crimes," Senator Maltese, co-sponsor of the legislation, said. "The depraved indifference and cruelty that some parents and guardians have for the welfare of these innocent children is appalling. We must not let them off lightly. We are very pleased that Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Queens) a long time sponsor of this type of remedial legislation protecting children has agreed to sponsor in the assembly this critically needed measure."
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes called for the changes because the existing law did not mandate a life without parole sentence against the alleged killers of Nixzmary Brown because no felony sex crime was involved. As a result, the killers could be released from prison after 15 years.
District Attorney Hynes said: "I commend the Senate Majority for taking such a strong stand against those offenders – parents, guardian, and other persons entrusted with the care and welfare of a child – who, betraying that trust, murder these vulnerable victims. Offenders who cruelly inflict pain, abuse, and ultimately death on those children whom they were supposed to protect are not fit to ever re-enter society. These child-killers deserve life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and this important legislation addresses this issue."
Existing law mandates the sentence of life without parole for the death of a child less than 14 years of age only in those cases when a person 18 years of age or more commits the crime while committing a felony sex crime against the child. In all other cases, a person who tortures and abuses a child, causing the child’s death, or intentionally causes the death of a child, can be paroled after serving a minimum term, no matter how horrific the crime.
STRENGTHENING MEGAN’S LAW
The New York State Senate today passed a comprehensive package of legislation to strengthen and improve Megan’s Law and crack down on dangerous sex offenders who pose a threat to our children and our communities by requiring mandatory community notification when a sex offender moves into a community, requiring GPS monitoring of the most dangerous offenders, and increasing penalties for sex offenders.
"The new law authorizing lifetime registration of sex offenders was an excellent first step, but there is so much more we must do to strengthen our laws to protect people, especially innocent children, from violent sexual predators," Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. "These bills will keep our neighborhoods better informed about the presence of sex offenders, will increase penalties for sexual predators who pose a threat to our neighborhoods, and will put in place common sense measures to restrict sex offenders’ access to places where children are especially vulnerable -- at school, at day care, and at the neighborhood playgrounds. I urge the assembly to join us in passing these critically important pieces of legislation so we can continue to ensure the safety of our children and our communities."
The senate passed the "Eleventh Anniversary, Twenty-First Century Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act" (S.4793-C), sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos (R, Rockville Center), the original author of Megan’s Law eleven years ago, which would strengthen Megan’s Law in 25 ways.
"Last week, the senate and assembly successfully partnered together to extend the Sex Offender Registry’s registration requirements and prevent thousands of dangerous predators from escaping Megan’s Law," said Senator Skelos. "Now, we must update and strengthen Megan’s Law by requiring community notification and utilizing modern technology, like GPS tracking, email and the internet, to ensure that concerned parents have the information needed to protect their families. I’m hopeful that we can again use the conference committee process to resolve these issues and make New York State an even safer place to live."
The "Eleventh Anniversary Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act" would require:
Mandatory Community Notification: Under current law, it is left up to the discretion of the police whether they notify community members about the presence of a sex offender.
Website and Electronic Communication: This legislation expands the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ website to include information about all sex offenders, not only the Level Three offenders under current law. In addition, visitors to the website would be able to register for e-mail notification regarding sex offenders living in, or relocating to, their zip code.
Global Positioning System (GPS) Tracking: This legislation would require all Level Three offenders to wear a GPS monitoring device for the duration of registration. The Act includes numerous provisions relating to the type of GPS system the offender must wear, the offender’s required contribution to its cost, penalties for the removal or disabling of the tracking device, and judicial authority to modify the tracking equipment.
In addition, the "Eleventh Anniversary Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act" does the following:
> adds three crimes to the list of registerable offenses:
> sexual assault against a child by a person in a position of trust in the first degree;
> sexual assault against a child by a person of trust in the second degree; and
> endangering the welfare of a child where sexual activity is involved.
> adds sexual assault against a child by a person in a position of trust in the first degree to the list of sexually violent offenses;
> verification forms will be mailed to sex offenders twice a year on a random basis, rather than once a year on the anniversary date;
> even if an offender has not moved, they will be in violation if they do not send back their signed verification card;
> changes the determination hearing process in the following ways:
> the notice to the sex offender will tell them the hearing will determine how much information the community will receive;
> requires sex offenders to appear at the hearing which will determine their level of notification and whether they are designated as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender, or predicate sex offender;
> if an offender fails to appear at their registration hearing, the hearing will be conducted in their absence;
> a sex offender who has been convicted outside of New York will be given notice of the hearing that will determine how long they must register and how much information will be given to the public; and
> if an out of state offender fails to appear, the court will still make a determination.
> amends the correction law in relation to what constitutes failure to register on the part of the sex offender, and the penalties for failing to register;
> changes the conditions of probation or parole that prohibit a sex offender from going on school grounds to eliminate the necessity that the victim be less than 18 at the time of the offense;
> creates the new crime of unlawfully residing or entering upon school grounds in the second degree. No sex offender may go on school grounds;
> increases the statute of limitations for a sex offense against a child under the age of 17 to 15 years, from 5 years, after the child reaches the age of 18; and
> requires that when an individual is charged with a sex offense, incest, or sexual performance, any plea agreement must include a guilty plea to one of these crimes.
In addition to the "Eleventh Anniversary Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act", the Senate passed several bills today, sponsored by Senator Skelos, that would:
> increase the criminal penalties for sexual offenses against a minor when those offenses are committed by a person in a position of trust, such as a teacher, day-care provider, or a coach (S.480-A);
> require that a person charged with a sexual offense would only be allowed to plea bargain where the agreed upon plea included a sex offense (S.498);
> extend the statute of limitations to prosecute sex crimes against children from five years to 15 years, after the victim has reached age 18 (S.1170);
> prohibit persons who are required to register as sex offenders from residing or entering upon school grounds (S.2452);
> increase the penalty for failure to report the sexual assault of a child (S.2724);
> instill a penalty for offenders who fail to annually return a signed verification form, regardless of whether or not the offender has moved (S.481);
> increase the penalty for failing to register under the Sex Offender Registry Act from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony (S.483-A);
> require information about all levels of sex offenders to be posted on the Internet, and provide for registration to receive an automatic e-mail notification when a sex offender moves into a resident’s zip code (S.496-B); and
> make failure to report to the determination hearing a violation of the Act, require the court to hold the hearing in the offender’s absence if the offender fails to appear, and require a sex offender to sign and return an annual verification form, regardless of whether the offender has moved (S.1169-A).