Senate Acts to Keep Communities Safer From Sexual Predators

 

The New York State Senate today passed four bills that would keep communities safer from sexual predators. The package of legislation requires more stringent verification requirements for sex offender residency, and strengthens penalties for individuals who help sex offenders evade registration requirements. It also puts additional protections in place to prevent certain sex offenders from residing with students or assuming roles in school governance. 

Legislation (S1392) sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos (R, Rockville Centre) requires sex offenders to return an annual address verification form to the Division of Criminal Justice Services within 10 days of receipt, even if the offender has not moved, or face penalties for noncompliance.

Recent news reports have described the challenges facing some New York law enforcement officials in tracking down registered sex offenders displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Some of these potentially dangerous individuals have been forced to move from their residences because of damage caused by the storm. It is critical that law enforcement officials have all the current information necessary to locate and monitor sex offenders. 
 
 “Keeping track of registered sex offenders is of the utmost importance in the protection of public safety,” Senator Skelos said. “This bill would help put police resources where they are most needed and help ensure compliance with a valuable tool in monitoring potentially dangerous individuals.”

Also, a bill (S1437) sponsored by Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) creates a new penalty for anyone who knowingly harbors, houses or employs a sex offender required to register or verify residence or employment and fails to do so.

Two other bills help prevent sexual predators from serving in certain school positions or living in college dormitories. 

Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) has sponsored legislation that would prohibit sex offenders from taking school positions that would potentially require interaction with children. The bill (S3309) prevents people convicted of certain sex offenses from serving as a trustee, principal, officer, or member of a board of education of any public school or charter school. 

Current law does not prohibit Level 3 sex offenders from living in a college dormitory, but a bill (S1020) sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester) would include such a restriction to protect students.

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.