News From the Assembly
From the Desk of Assemblyman David McDonough
Proud Vote to Expand Megan's Law
On Monday, March 11, the New York State Legislature approved a measure that will help ensure our children grow up in safe and secure communities. Both the state Assembly and Senate passed legislation to expand New York's Sex Offender Registry, commonly known as Megan's Law, making it more difficult for known sex offenders to hide in our neighborhoods.
Megan's Law, named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of New Jersey, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a neighbor who was a convicted sex offender, requires known sex offenders to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) upon discharge or release from any state or local facility, hospital or institution. Megan's Law also allows dissemination of, and public access to, information regarding potentially dangerous sex offenders who move to or reside in their community.
In July 2001, the US Bureau of Justice Assistance ordered New York to strengthen its sex-offender registration laws or risk losing 10 percent of the approximately $28.9 million in federal Byrne Formula grants. These funds provide statewide aid for victim's assistance programs, local law enforcement initiatives and anti-drug programs. By passing this legislation before the March 11 deadline, New York State will retain the nearly $3 million it could have lost in federal aid.
The expansion includes adding to the list of registerable offenses certain new crimes enacted federally and in New York State. Additionally, the legislation mandates lifetime registration for recidivists and aggregated offenders. Level three high-risk sex offenders will now have to wait 13 years before they are eligible to apply to end their obligation to register; the current waiting period is 10 years. The bill also orders the registration of convicted sex offenders attending or employed at New York State's colleges and universities, and it will impose new requirements on nonresidents employed or attending school within the state.
By expanding the Sex Offender Registry, we have made it more difficult for sex offenders to prey on our children, and made available to parents more information to better protect their families.
As one of the newest members of the state Assembly, I am extremely proud to say that one of my earliest votes as your representative at the state Capitol was in support of protecting our children from sex offenders by expanding Megan's Law.
To access the Sex Offender Registry and obtain information about a possible sex offender, residents may call the registry's phone number at 1-900-288-3838, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or log onto its website at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us.
If you have any additional questions or comments, please call my district office at 731-8830, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.