REGISTRY SHOWS SEX OFFENDERS LIVING LOCALLY (Local legislation increasingly imposes residency restrictions)
In the triangle defined by Northport to the west, Wading River to the east, and Middle Country to the south, there are at least 22 level 3 sex offenders, the highest risk level for reoffending living in the area. Just knowing where they live is an important step in protecting yourself and your family from harm. Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law (PFML), the nationwide children's sexual abuse advocacy group headquartered in Stony Brook, explained one reason why knowing that convicted sex offenders are living locally is so important. The recidivism rate, according to the Department of Justice, said Ahearn, is 35 percent for rapists, 29 percent for those who abuse girls, and 40 percent for those who abuse boys. The federal registry was enacted on January 21, 1996, she said, referring to Megan's Law, named in honor of Megan Kanka, the child abused and killed by a repeat sex offender in the crime that spurred the legislation.
All 50 states now have some sex offender registry. New York's can be accessed by calling (800) 262-3257 or at their website at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor.
An important element in the effort to inform parents when sex offenders move into a community is the letter usually sent to the parents of all students by a school district. PFML has expanded the notification process by providing its own email notification system to anyone who chooses to sign up for the service, at no charge. PFML can be reached at 698-2672 or on their website: www.parentsformeganslaw.com.
Residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders are becoming more prevalent across the country. Locally, Brookhaven Councilman Kevin McCarrick (R-Shoreham) sponsored a bill that prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, park or playground in Brookhaven. The bill was approved in December. Last October, in Huntington, a similar measure was approved, limited to 500 feet.
According to Kathleen Monahan, an assistant dean at Stony Brook University's School of Social Welfare and director of the family Violence and Education and Research Center, the high recidivism rate among sex offenders is treatable, if not curable. She criticizes the lock 'em up and throw away the key approach to the problem. Treatment, not punishment, is needed. Prevention is number one.
Another source of information and help is available from the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS). VIBS offers assistance in the areas of child sexual abuse and adult sexual assault at their 24-hour hotline, 360-3606, or can be reached during regular business hours at 360-3730. PFML also offers a local workshop/seminar on spotting signs of childhood sexual abuse, dealing with family members in such situations, and preventing abuse from occurring.
Suffolk County's Level 3 high-risk offenders include four in Commack; three in South Setauket; two each in Hauppauge, Port Jefferson, and Selden; and one each in Kings Park, Lake Grove, Miller Place, Port Jefferson Station, Rocky Point, St. James, Sound Beach, Stony Brook and Wading River.