Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senator Pushes for Sex Offender Notification

By Conor Greene

There are more than 3,400 sex offenders living in the five boroughs, and several lawmakers want the state to notify residents via e-mail every time one moves into their neighborhood.

“More and more families with young children are choosing to stay in New York City and raise their families. It would be near criminal to deny New Yorkers the added convenience of better protecting our children from the kind of unsavory individuals who are, in many cases, our neighbors,” said Senator Jeff Klein, who is calling on the state to adopt the legislation.

According to Klein (D-Bronx), an existing statewide emergency communication system managed by the Department of Homeland Security would make it easy to allow residents to register for e-mail notifications. Currently, residents who want up-to-date information on sex offenders in their communities must search the Sex Offender Registry maintained by the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, noted that New Yorkers are already able to get notification of traffic delays, storm warnings and other information from government agencies through the NY-Alert system. “The cost to merge this information into NY-Alert and notify New York parents when sex offenders move into their neighborhood is negligible, and the benefit is self-evident,” said Lancman.

As of May 4, there were 11,428 level-two-and-three sex offenders in the state’s registry, with an average of 15 residing in each city zip code. Of the 3,428 known sex offenders living in the city, 133 live in Staten Island, 1,197 in Brooklyn, 639 in Manhattan, 928 in the Bronx and 531 in Queens. While level two and three (moderate and high risk) offenders are listed on the state’s website, the information is constantly changing as new offenders are added and existing registrants update their information, noted Klein.

In addition, with offenders subject to the 12-year-old registration requirements being released from prison every day and an increasing number of crimes, such as sex trafficking, being added to the list of registerable offenses, the number of registered offenders is likely going to continue expanding in the coming months and years.

The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation on Monday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

America, Land of Public Shaming:
¨Sex Offender¨ Stigma – Today's Scarlet Letter!
Much has been written to compare current ¨sex offender¨ registration and related requirements to the scarlet letter, as described by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. With requirements in some states for "sex offenders" to post a notice on their homes, and for their cars to have special license plates identifying them – all of which invite vigilante action – the scarlet letter reference is no exaggeration. At Halloween in Maryland, and some other states, offenders had to post a sign on their door or window saying "no candy here." Interestingly, this actually had a reverse affect, attracting some adventurous youth to those doors. But such branding and public shaming is no laughing matter. It follows a long American tradition, that has included dozens of periodic panics and hysterias, very often about sex. As in Hawthorne's story, set in 1600's Puritan Massachusetts, this public shaming reeks of hypocrisy. The Salem minister, Rev. Dimmesdale, who interrogated Hester Prynne, the adultress forced to wear the A on her dress, was finally revealed to be the adulterer who fathered Prynne's daughter. Yet even when he confessed and committed suicide, his faithful flock saw this as further evidence of his saintly virtue – insisting that the A they saw in the sky was for ¨angel,¨ not
"adultery." Denial is so much easier than accepting responsibility for such serious public wrong. Recently, in Minnesota, the state legislator who sponsored legislation to force "sex offenders" to have a special
license plate, was revealed as himself having been convicted in another state of drunk driving – where he would have had to have such a plate himself, had he not left that state.

After every panic and accompanying witchhunt, there has eventually been a turn about, in which the government officials or church fathers have admitted their own "sins," and repented – yet too late to save the
victims of the scarlet letter. The cycle of shaming and hypocrisy, followed by repentence, has been repeated time and again. The current 'sex offender' hysteria has been possibly the longest in all our history, just now beginning to show some signs of receding after twenty years or more. It is finally time for America to be done with all of this – and come home to its other side - equally true – of being the Land of the Free. Both traditions are real: Anerica must reject public shaming, and embrace again the notion of rehabilitation and renewal. America must abolish the public sex offender registry once and for all.