The New Direction of Sex Offender Monitoring
Under New York’s current Sex Offender Registration Act, all convicted sex offenders must register with the state before being released from any correctional facility, institution or hospital, or when being sentenced to probation or discharged upon payment of a fine. After registration, the sex offender must report to a local law enforcement agency at regular intervals to be photographed and, if applicable, report address changes.
A new measure approved unanimously last year, however, has made a drastic change to the way Long Island’s Suffolk County monitors registered sex offenders. The job has been outsourced to an advocacy group called Parents for Megan’s Law, a nonprofit organization staffed by civilian employees. The organization will receive nearly $1 million per year to implement the new law, which Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says will have “an enhanced level of scrutiny unlike anything that exists anywhere else in our country.”
Parents for Megan’s Law staff members must be former law enforcement employees. While they are not allowed to carry firearms, opponents of the law have argued that the potential for harassment remains high due to the organization’s status as a victims’ advocacy group. According to a local attorney, Parents for Megan’s law has a national reputation for being hostile to post-conviction sex offenders, often intimidating them and impacting their ability to move on with their lives after serving their debt to society.
Many complaints have already emerged from those who have been approached and allegedly harassed by Parents for Megan’s Law employees. Groups of sex offenders have begun forming teamed resistance efforts, partnering with local New York attorneys to file lawsuits challenging the legislation.
If you or someone you know has had to register as a sex offender and is subject to monitoring from Parents for Megan’s Law, law enforcement or any other group, speak with a lawyer to make sure your rights don’t get violated.