Back to All Press Release

NYCLU Urges Federal Court To Reject A Binghamton Law That Would Banish Sex Offenders From City Limits

The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in federal court asking the court to strike down a Binghamton local ordinance that restricts where sex offenders might live in that city. The NYCLU argues in the brief before the US District Court for the Northern District of NY that Binghamton has violated state law principles prohibiting local governmental entities from passing local laws that are inconsistent with state law and policy. New York State’s Megan’s Law was designed to protect the public and to facilitate future law enforcement by requiring registration of convicted sex offenders and notification of their residence. As a matter of policy, State law further encourages post-incarceration sex offenders to live in communities where the offenders have family or community ties which would contribute to their rehabilitation.

“While the City of Binghamton may disagree with the State legislature’s regime,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, “it may not adopt a local ordinance that is entirely inconsistent with the State’s determination as to how best to protect the public by regulating the behavior of convicted sex offenders upon release from prison. In addition, the prescription of criminal punishments for sex offenders is up to the State Legislature. Binghamton may not impose further layers of punishment, especially banishment.”

The Binghamton ordinance undermines State policies and interests. It ignores registration and identification requirement and impedes law enforcement officials from knowing where the ex-offenders are living. It completely disregards the State’s interest in rehabilitating ex-offenders who live with their families and pursue gainful employment. And it creates an additional burden on surrounding municipalities.

The Binghamton ordinance has set off a statewide rush by localities around New York State to enact similar ordinances. Unless the courts invalidate this ordinance, a patchwork of conflicting local laws regulating the behavior of convicted sex offenders will occur across New York State – all in conflict with the State’s policy.

The Binghamton ordinance comes at a time when the New York State Legislature is considering some 80 additional bills – all intended to strengthen further the provisions of New York State’s Megan’s Law.

Oral argument in the case is scheduled to take place on September 23, 2005.

Click here to read the NYCLU friend-of-the-court brief. (Requires the free Adobe Reader.)

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union