‘Low-risk, schmo-risk,’ says State Senate bill as pols hunt a favorite target
As easy targets go, nothing beats sex offenders. So State Comptroller Alan Hevesi hit the jackpot on Sunday, when he revealed that 198 of New York State’s Level 3 (or high-risk) sex offenders are getting Viagra through Medicaid. Giving erection-inducing meds to people who may have sexually assaulted someone seems, well, dumb. But can a politician go wrong playing tough guy on rapists, child molesters and other “pervs” and “creeps?” Yes, New York legislators seem to want to prove, they can.
State lawmakers are considering moves to increase the time that released sex offenders have to stay registered with the state. Right now, only some sex offenders must register for life— those who are designated at high risk of striking again, or who are considered sexual predators, sexually violent offenders or predicate sex offenders. Offenders categorized as Level 1 (low-risk) or level 2 (moderate-risk) who are not considered violent or predatory register for 10 years. Local cops are notified when a registered offender moves in, and local schools are told. You can call a 1-800 number to see if someone is on the list. Level 3 offenders have their addresses and photos listed on the web.
A bill being considered by the State Senate would change that. It would force all offenders, even those deemed to be unlikely to commit new crimes, to register for life. And it would put all their photos on the Web, meaning that whether you committed felony rape or “patronizing a prostitute in the third degree,” you’d be listed. The state Assembly is considering a weaker version, one that would allow district attorneys to petition to extend a 10-year registration by an additional 10 years, and to do so over and over.
If a person has served his or her time and is considered a low risk to commit another crime, what’s the sense of having them listed for life? After all, the registry is supposed to be preventive, not punitive. According to the legislative findings in the Senate version:
the danger of recidivism posed by sex offenders and the protection of the public from these offenders continues to be of paramount concern and interest to government … the goal of protecting the public by making as much information as possible available concerning these potentially recidivist sex offenders is not served by the removal of sex offenders from the registry after ten years. Therefore, in order to further this goal, the legislature has determined that all sex offenders should remain on the state sex offender registry for life.
Citizen, are you adequately informed about the sex offenders living in your zip code? Have you informed your children to be discerning as to which creepy guys they talk to? Click here to check out the Level 3 offender listing—and get protected!