Sex Offenders To Stay Registered Following Legislative Action

George Winner

January 18, 2006

Albany, N.Y.-- With the 10-year registration period for approximately 170 low- and mid-level sex offenders scheduled to expire on Saturday, the New York State Senate today approved legislation to renew New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, commonly known as "Megan’s Law," and keep every currently registered sex offender in New York on the books for at least 20 years.

The legislation was approved in the Senate by a vote of 57-1.

"Megan’s Law becomes a better law with this action," said Winner, a co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate. "But we can still make Megan’s Law an even stronger and tougher line of defense against violent sexual predators in our society. We have an opportunity and an obligation to make that happen this session."

The legislation will also be approved by the Assembly today and signed into law by Governor George Pataki. Under the new law, Level3 sex offenders will still be required to register for life, while Level 2 offenders will be allowed to petition the court for removal from the registry after 30 years. The lowest-risk offenders, Level 1, will be assigned a 20-year registration period.

Today’s legislative action follows a week long round of Senate-Assembly negotiations on how best to immediately revise the 10-year-old Megan’s Law, which took effect on January 21, 1996. One key provision of the original law established a 10-year registration period for Level 1 and Level 2 sex offenders. The highest-risk offenders, classified as Level 3, are required to register for life. Consequently, on Saturday, the 10-year registration period is set to end for approximately 170 Level 1 and Level 2 offenders. By the end of the year, unless the Legislature and Pataki acted to stop it, more than 3,500 convicted sex offenders would no longer have been listed on the registry.

Winnersees today’s action as a potential springboard to the approval of additional measures to overhaul and toughen New York’s sex offender laws. The Senate wants to enact a series of additional new laws including the establishment of a process of "civil confinement" to keep sexually violent predators off the streets for longer periods of time; mandatory community notification; and the posting of information for all levels of registered sex offenders on the state registry.

"Today’s action, in and of itself, is incredibly important to the safety and well-being of our children and communities. But it’s also important as a signal of hope for continued bipartisan cooperation on measures to toughen New York’s sex offender laws," said Winner.

New York's Sex Offender Registry was approved in 1995 and has been expanded several times over the past decade. It requires registration as a sex offender upon a conviction of a listed offense or a conviction for an attempt to commit a listed offense. There are currently 22,227 offenders listed on the registry.