Senate Passes Sex Offender Notification Bill

Dean G. Skelos

May 20, 2008

"Megan's Law provides concerned parents with access to the information they need to protect their children," said Senator Skelos. "This legislation makes everything in the Sex Offender Registry available online and provides people with an opportunity to automatically receive information about dangerous sex offenders living in their community. This is a commonsense initiative that uses technology to make our communities safer places to live."

Underthis bill, New Yorkers can access information about every registered sex offender in New York State, regardless of how much of a risk the offender is believed to pose to the public, while having the ability to sign up for urgent email alerts that notify specific zip codes of the presence of a sex offender in real time.

Under current law, only information on Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders is accessible on the DCJS website, but only through a subdirectory maintained by the agency on its website and distributed to local law enforcement agencies monthly. In order to view the subdirectory, a person must provide his or her name in writing.

While DCJS provides valuable information concerning those offenders who have been determined to pose a moderate or high risk, the agency currently does not provide similar information about offenders found to pose a lower risk of reoffense.

Under the current Sex Offender Registration Act, individuals may call a toll-free number operated by the Division or be notified by a local law enforcement agency to learn of low risk offenders in his or her community. To utilize the toll-free number, however, a caller must have the sex offender's name and either the offender's exact address, date of birth, social security number or driver's license number.

The Senate bill approved today will provide greater access to sex offender registry information and provide that information in a more swift and usable manner.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.