Friday, 22 January 2010 00:00
Tuesday night Jan. 12, at Farmingdale High School I had the privilege of addressing the residents on the matter of the Suffolk County’s proposal to build a homeless shelter, which would house sexual offenders. I would like to congratulate our Nassau County Legislator, Joe Belesi, for his successful advocacy and the Farmingdale Council of PTA’s for organizing the community.
As it turned out, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy reversed direction and had scrapped the plan hours before the meeting. The high school was packed with Farmingdale residents concerned about the potential danger to our women and children. Although Levy was responsive to the public outcry, this incident highlighted a problem that continues to plague government officials. How does government protect our vulnerable population from known sexual predators released from prison? It is a known fact amongst law enforcement that sexual offenders have the highest rate of recidivism and are more than likely to recommit their crimes.
As a former New York State Assemblyman I fought for civil confinement so that the worst of the worst of sexual predators would be placed in a secure mental health facility after serving their prison term. Recently, New York State passed this law. Although the commitment process is extremely complex and lengthy it is a good start at protecting our community.
Just as Megan’s Law had to be strengthened over the past 10 years, so does New York State’s civil confinement law. Our community needs to press our state leaders to continue the fight to strengthen the civil confinement law so that we can involuntarily commit and treat these predators while protecting our community. We need a more streamlined and less complex process so that we may cast a wider net to treat and hold more of these dangerous sexual offenders. I know we can count on local state lawmakers, Assemblyman Saladino and Senators Fuschillo and Hannon.
Steve Labriola, Oyster Bay Town Clerk
Former New York State Assemblyman