Tougher Meganís Law a Win for Families

January 20, 2006

The agreement reached by the state Legislature on Meganís Law enhancements is a major victory for people who care about protecting women and children from dangerous sex offenders.

My Assembly minority colleagues and I have long known how important it is to keep track of convicted sexual predators and where they live after their release from prison. The Meganís Law Sex Offender Registry is a vital tool that helps residents and law enforcement keep their communities safer.

The law mandates registration and notification provisions and requires classification of convicted sex offenders using a three-tier system: Levels 1, 2 and 3 are low, moderate and high-risk offenders, respectively. The levels increase as the offendersí risk to the community and public increases. A level of notification recommendation is made to the sentencing court before each offenderís prison release.

This legislation keeps Level 3 offenders, those who committed the most serious sexual crimes, on the registry for life. Level 2 sex offenders will have to register for 30 years, after which they may petition a judge to be removed from the registry. Level 1 offenders must register for 20 years, double the time under the existing statute.

The first 168 Level 1 and Level 2 sex offenders (129 of the 168 are Level 2) were due to drop off the Meganís Law registry on January 21, with the total jumping to 3,500 by yearís end if the Legislature didnít take decisive action last week.

I am proud that reforming Meganís Law was one of the first actions taken by the Assembly this year. This achievement was reached after both parties came together to do the right thing. Passage of this legislation is not just a win for me, but for the residents of New York who no longer have to worry about dangerous sex offenders falling off the Stateís radar screen. This is how state government in Albany should always work.

However, we will not rest and cannot rest. I will continue to press the Assembly majority to pass civil confinement legislation to keep the most dangerous offenders away from our families and off the streets.