The New York state Assembly Republican delegation wants registered sex offenders to be monitored with Global Positioning System bracelets that they would be required to wear at all times. That is only one measure in a string of proposals that Assembly Republicans say are needed to strengthen the decade-old Megan's Law, which requires police to notify schools when a high-risk sex offender moves into a neighborhood.
Assembly Republicans like North Merrick's David McDonough made their views known during a news conference in Mineola last Monday. To toughen Megan's Law, the Assembly Republicans would also like to:
€Restrict convicted sex offenders' access to schools.
€Provide in-depth information on all sexual predators, no matter their assigned risk levels (1 being the lowest and 3 the highest). Right now, police can only notify a school district when a Level 3 predator moves in.
€List all predators, no matter their risk level, on the statewide Sex Offender Registry online. Right now, only Level 3 predators are registered, and only for 10 years.
James Conte, a Republican Assemblyman of Huntington Station, said of the Level 1 and 2 offenders, "They are just waiting to be Level 3; they just haven't been caught yet."
Megan's Law was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was killed 11 years ago by a neighbor, Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sexual offender. Timmendequas lured Kanka into his home with his dog. He then raped and killed her - 30 yards from her front door.
In addition to a stronger Megan's Law, Assembly Republicans would like to see "civil-confinement" legislation passed. The bill would give judges the authority to hold the worst sexual offenders in mental institutions after they are released from prison. Only sexual offenders who are carefully evaluated and found to be a threat to the public would be confined.
McDonough, vice chairman of the Assembly Republican Task Force on Sex Crimes Against Children and Women, said bills that would toughen Megan's Law and add civil confinement to the books have passed the Republican-controlled state Senate, but not the Democratically controlled Assembly. McDonough said that Assembly Republicans are starting a statewide petition calling on the Assembly's Democratic majority to release these bills from committee onto the Assembly floor for a vote.
"This petition drive shows our residents' concern with the release of sexual predators into our communities," McDonough said. "Many sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated. The enactment of civil-confinement laws would provide added protection for women and children in communities across New York state from being victimized by those individuals deemed dangerous and likely to offend again."
McDonough said that Assembly Republicans have urged passage of civil-confinement legislation since 1993, and that similar bills have repeatedly passed the state Senate with bipartisan support, but they have yet to be voted on by the Assembly, because the bills end up stuck in the Assembly's Rules Committee.
"Gov. George Pataki has said that he would sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk," McDonough said. "But we have yet to pass the bill in the Assembly."
McDonough added that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of civil confinement, and so far 17 states have enacted their own civil-confinement laws. They include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, a Republican of Massapequa, said statistics show that sexual predators will attack 117 victims during their lives. "This is something we know that if these bills come to the [Assembly] floor, they will be passed," Saladino said. "Megan [Kanka] was killed by a person who had been arrested for molesting children. The civil confinement of this person would have saved her life."
Saladino added, "I urge anyone and everyone who wants to take a stance against sexual abuse to sign the petition, and to pass it along to all their friends and families who are also interested in keeping women and children safe from these violent sex offenders. We have urged the [Democratic] majority to take action on this bill, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. With your help, they will hear the call from all New Yorkers and allow this legislation to come to the floor of the Assembly for a vote."
Those who want to add their names to the petition can contact McDonough's office at (516) 731-8830, or their local state Republican assemblyman.
Comments about this story? HFlores@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 236.