Sex offender residency restrictions and study
In October 2014, Legislator Justin Wilcox (District 14 – Brighton, Henrietta) introduced a pair of bills (Ref. 14-0281 and 14-0282) intended to address safety concerns prompted by convicted sex offenders released into our community.
The first bill prevented sex offenders from living close to schools, daycare facilities, and other organizations that serve vulnerable populations. Under current law, there are no restrictions on where those judged Level 2 sex offenders can live. Legislator Wilcox’s bill would have placed restrictions on those offenders and tightened restrictions on Level 3 offenders beyond what state law currently provides.
The other bill established a task force to examine Monroe County’s role, particularly through its Probation Department, of monitoring convicted sex offenders. Legislator Wilcox expressed a desire to have the Legislature and leading public safety officials, including the District Attorney and Sheriff, work together to examine if the current system is working and whether any additional changes in county policies and procedures were needed to promote the safety of populations vulnerable to recidivist sex offenders – particularly children.
Unfortunately, before the bill was discussed in committee, a February 2015 decision of New York’s highest court invalidated any municipality’s efforts to include tougher restrictions on where sex offenders can live that went beyond state law. This ruling has made it impossible for the legislation as written to move forward, but Legislator Wilcox and the Democratic caucus remain committed to finding ways to keep children and other potential victims safe – for example, through enhanced notification requirements for when offenders move into a new neighborhood, which was already a part of the draft legislation.
You can read the introductory memos and full language of the proposed legislation here.