SEX OFFENDERS NOT WELCOME
In a move that prompted one legislator to warn that it could give the public a false sense of security, the county Legislature recently passed a bill stating that sex offenders are not welcome in general emergency shelters. The legislation passed by a vote of 17-0, with one abstention. The resolution, introduced by Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), would require registered sex offenders, when entering an emergency shelter, to notify a shelter manager, a shelter employee, or a shelter volunteer of their sex offender status. to make sure they still have a place to go, there would be a separate facility established for sexual predators. Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, noted that during hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 30% of acts of alleged sexual predation took place in shelters, and 63% of the victims were targeted by acquaintances at a shelter. However, she said that she supported the bill only after Browning removed a plan calling on emergency staff to do a background check on everyone coming into a shelter. Keeping track of over 800 offenders is the responsibility of law enforcement, Ahearn said.