There is no shortage of legislative sponsors for sex offender legislation in New York State, and that comes as no surprise given the rightful concern of citizens (i.e. voters) about who is living or working next door.
Nonetheless, it would be unfair to accuse lawmakers of pandering to voters given the legitimate concerns of many citizens about the presence of sex offenders in their communities. That’s certainly the case in Niagara County where more than 300 registered sex offenders live, about sixty percent of them in the City of Niagara Falls.
Not to be outdone, freshman State Sen. Robert Ortt (R.-North Tonawanda), has joined the legislative sex offender bandwagon with a bill that, according to his press release, would help law enforcement and communities better monitor sex offenders.
Now there’s no argument here with beefing up law enforcement’s ability to keep track of sex offenders, in this case of the Level 2 variety. Under Ortt’s bill, which has been approved in the GOP-controlled State Senate, law enforcement would be able to disseminate information about a Level 2 convicted sex offender’s place of employment to vulnerable organizational entities. The State Senate approved the measure on Monday and sent it to the Assembly.
Just for the record, under New York law there are three levels of sex offenders—Level 1 (low risk of re-offense), Level 2 (medium risk of re-offense), and Level 3 (high risk of re-offense); risk level is set by a judge after a court hearing.
Only Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders are listed on the public directory of offenders which posts multiple photographs of registered sex offenders, as they become available. The directory also includes photographers, aliases, home and/or work addresses in the profile.
About his legislation to better monitor sex offenders, Ortt issued the following statement: “As lawmakers, we have a vital responsibility to protect our neighborhoods from documented predators. This bill will strengthen community safety by providing individuals with abundant information—virtually at their doorsteps—about registered sex offenders not only living, but working amongst them. The more measures we take in protecting our children from potential harm, the better off our community will be.”
According to Ortt’s release, employment addresses for Level 2 sex offenders are available online on the Sex Offender Registry site maintained by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services. Current law only allows law enforcement to notify schools and other vulnerable populations of the offender’s home address, not their employment address. Ortt said his bill would change that, allowing communities to better protect their children from sexual violence.