Albany— New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette) and members of the Senate 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.
Senator Nozzolio was 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.
"As I held Senate hearings across the State to examine strengthening Megan’s law, the testimony from family members of victims was the most compelling and heart breaking,” said Senator Michael Nozzolio, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction. “Mark Lunsford should be commended for traveling to New York to share his tragedy and for campaigning for stronger laws to protect our children from dangerous sexual predators. I strongly urge the State Assembly to pass these critically important pieces of legislation.”
“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, the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee would hold public 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 Nozzolio, 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.
In addition, the Senate approved legislation (S.3273) sponsored by Senator Nozzolio that provides for the civil commitment of sexually violent predators after they’ve completed their prison sentence to protect the public from criminals likely to commit repeated acts of sexual violence.
The Assembly has not acted on any of the sex offender bills passed by the Senate.