Bill would allow county gov'ts to decide how far sex offenders can live from schools

April 04, 2019

SMITHTOWN -There's a new push in Albany to keep child sex predators from living near schools.

Smithtown's Ann Snak was "shocked" to find out that state law allows some dangerous sex offenders to live near schools.

Suffolk and Nassau counties had put into place tough laws that prevented some sex offenders from living close to schools, day care centers and parks. But the state Court of Appeals struck them down a few years ago because there was a state law already in place. Victims rights activists say that state law doesn't have the same strict residency restrictions as the former county laws.

During April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, there's now a push to pass state legislation that would give county governments the right to make their own laws if they choose to do so. State Sen. Monica Martinez is the bill's sponsor.

If the law passes, the farthest Nassau and Suffolk could force a sex offender to live away from a school would be 1,000 feet. That's less than the quarter-mile restriction previously in place in Suffolk. It would not apply to parks, playgrounds or day care centers, only public, private and charter schools.

Laura Ahearn, of Parents for Megan's Law, says the law would ideally apply to those excluded places, but it would likely be overturned again.