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Sex-Offender Legislation Pending In Albany Is Badly Misguided

At a news conference today professionals who treat and manage sex offenders, along with civil libertarians and advocates for victims of sex crimes, charged that proposed sex offender laws are ill-conceived and irrational.

The speakers contend that measures proven most effective in preventing sex offenses are largely absent from legislation now pending before the state legislature. They assert that unsound, and even untested, approaches are drawing attention and funding away from what is known to work.

Both the Senate and Assembly have recently introduced a raft of legislative proposals that would further sanction or regulate persons who have already served sentences for sex offenses. These proposals include lifetime monitoring for all persons convicted of any sex offense – including consensual sex between teenagers and acts of lewdness or forcible touching – as well as indefinite civil commitment.

Robert Perry, Legislative Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that “the rhetoric of the Republican leadership on the issue of sex offenses has been reckless and irresponsible. Their legislative proposals are based on ignorance of modern treatment techniques and sound law-enforcement practices. If adopted, these legislative proposals will do little or nothing to make our communities safer; they may well make us less safe.”

Mental-health professionals and those who supervise sex-offenders say that a comprehensive, integrated approach can be highly effective in preventing sex crimes. This model coordinates the efforts of law enforcement professionals, treatment providers and case managers, and victim advocates.

“We know what works. If these proven strategies – which are employed in communities across the country and right here in New York – were adequately funded and staffed, we could offer our communities much more effective protection against sexual violence,” stated Dr. Richard Hamill, President of the Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers.

Noel C. Thomas, Project Director of the Capital District Coalition for Sex Offender Management asserted that, “the program that we have in the Capital Region brings together people involved in all aspects of investigating, prosecuting, monitoring, and treating sex offenders, as well as those providing support and services to victims. This kind of integrated, victim centered approach produces real results for the public safety, but unfortunately these programs are rare and their funding is not guaranteed, that needs to change.”

“New York State has a wealth of knowledgeable, dedicated professionals who work on a daily basis with children and adults affected by sexual assault and with those who have committed sex offenses,” said Anne Liske, Executive Director, NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “As we work to create safe communities, let us use their collective wisdom to build on the foundations we have for effective, lasting solutions, rather than reactive, expensive quick fixes that look tough, but over time drain our resources.”

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