Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and members of the Senate Majority Conference today called on the Assembly to act on legislation approved by the Senate to strengthen Megan’s Law and the state’s Sex Offender Registry to protect the public from sexual predators.
Senators were joined at a Capitol news conference today by Mark Lunsford of Florida. Lunsford’s nine year old daughter Jessica was killed by a convicted sex offender in Florida earlier this year. Lunsford urged the Assembly to pass tougher sex offender legislation.
"For the last decade, the Senate has championed stronger laws that protect children from dangerous sexual predators, but the Assembly has continually refused to act," said Senator Dean Skelos "This year, the Senate held public hearings and passed comprehensive legislation to reform and strengthen Megan’s Law in 25 different ways. With four days left in the legislative session, the Assembly Leadership must do the right thing and allow these vital measures to reach the floor for a vote. The safety of our children and our communities depends on it."
"Registration and notification will play a key part in protecting our children," Mark Lunsford said. "Until this happened to my daughter, I didn’t know how much danger we are all in. Putting these monsters on an honor system is nonsense, they have already shown us that they cannot be trusted. If they are wearing a tracking device, we would always know where they are and they would know that we knew where they are. If I had known that John Couey, a convicted sex offender, lived across the street, Jessica would be alive today. I was never notified about any sex offenders in my neighborhood. How can we protect our children without access to this information."
On May 3, 2005 the Senate announced that, on the 10th anniversary of Megan’s Law, it would hold hearings on legislative proposals to strengthen Megan’s Law. After several public hearings, the Senate approved the "Tenth Anniversary Omnibus Sex Offender Registration Reform Act." The bill (S.4793-B, sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos) would strengthen Megan’s Law in 25 ways, including: mandatory notification by police when a registered sex offender moves into a community, lifetime registration of all sex offenders, requiring information about all levels of sex offenders to be posted on the Internet, and GPS monitoring for the worst offenders. The Senate has also passed each of the 25 provisions of the omnibus bill as separate pieces of legislation.
Nine counties either have in place, or are preparing programs to use electronic tracking devices to keep track of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, including: Westchester, Washington, Suffolk, Nassau, Monroe, Schenectady, Albany, Dutchess and Ulster.
The Assembly has not acted on any of the sex offender bills passed by the Senate.