Sex offenders in New York can go unaccounted for days and weeks at a time if they change their addresses. Two Hudson Valley legislators are looking to change that.
State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) have proposed legislation requiring law enforcement to send change of address forms to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services within five business days. The forms also include details on employment, education, motor vehicle information, internet providers and online identities.
Currently, many sex offenders go to their local police departments to fill out change of address forms rather than registering directly with DJCS. Murphy and Zebrowski said this leads many sex offenders unaccounted for.
There are 39,000 registered sex offenders in New York State and 1,124 living in Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The breakdown of registered sex offenders by county is:
Currently, registered sex offenders are required to notify DCJS within 10 days of changing their address. The offender can either notify DCJS in person or submit a change of address form to a local law enforcement agency. Unfortunately, there is no time specific frame for law enforcement to forward the change of address from to the DCJS.
"Right now the duty falls on the sex offender to notify the state to keep their address and personal information up to date," said Murphy. "There has been some confusion when a sex offender has reported his or her change of address to a local law enforcement agency and the information has not reached the state level. This new bill will ensure that the sex offender registry is accurate and up to date so residents can be made aware of any offender moving into their neighborhood."
Zebrowski said this legislation will ensure a more up-to-date and accurate Sex Offender Registry.
"Without a statutory time frame for local police to follow, that vital information may not be communicated in a timely manner which creates a dangerous gap in information," Zebrowski said. We must ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect our children, and that starts with making sure that this registry is as effective as possible."