Ten years ago New York’s Legislature responded to the tragic murder of a young girl named Megan Kanka by passing a law in her memory: Megan’s Law. That act set up the state’s sex offender registry to protect families and children from sexual predators in our society. As a parent, I have always appreciated the security Megan's law gives our family and community as we all work so hard to keep our children safe.
Since it was first enacted, the strengths and weaknesses of Megan's law have come to light. One glaring weakness was the provision allowing some sex offenders to fall off the rolls after ten years. That looming deadline was one of the major reasons why the Legislature decided to revisit Meagan's law and improve upon this important legislation.
Now, a decade after the original law went into effect, the Senate has passed "The Tenth Anniversary Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act." The bill (S.4793-B), which I supported, will strengthen Megan's Law in 25 ways by increasing the punishment and monitoring of all sex offenders.
This bill requires the lifetime registration of all sex offenders. Under current law, only the worst offenders are required to register for life. Most sex offenders are registered for just ten years before they are dropped from the registry.
The new bill also increases the statute of limitations for a sex offense against a minor. No longer will the guilty be beyond punishment because of unreasonable limitations. This reform will mean justice for many innocent victims who do not come forward until they reach adulthood.
This legislation will also expand the Division of Criminal Justice Services' website to include information about all sex offenders, not only the worst offenders as is the case under current law. In addition, visitors to the website will be able to register for e-mail notification regarding sex offenders living in or relocating to their zip code.
The new bill will also require all Level Three offenders to wear a GPS monitoring device for the duration of his or her registration, and requires the offenders contribute to the cost of the monitoring system.
By passing this important legislation, I and the other members of the Senate hope to improve the law to better protect the children of our state. As a parent, I will always remember the tragic death of young Megan Kanka. And as a Senator, I will always do what I can to make sure others do not have to endure her family's pain.