Photo Courtesy of IDC
According to the Independent Democratic Conference’s “Preying on Pre-Ks” report, 93 sexual predators convicted of committing crimes against children live within 1,000 feet of standalone pre-kindergartens across the five boroughs.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A maddening loophole in New York law is allowing sex offenders who have been convicted of committing crimes against young children to live near standalone pre-kindergartens throughout the city, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the Independent Democratic Conference of the State Senate.
Under current law, the Sex Offender Registration Act, “Preying on Pre-Ks: The IDC Investigates Predators’ Proximity to Pre-Ks and Kindergartens” notes, the definition of the word “school” does not include standalone pre-kindergartens, and an investigation discovered 93 sexual predators found guilty of committing such crimes against children as first-degree rape, sodomy, first-degree sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of a minor, living within 1,000 feet of these facilities across the five boroughs. Pre-Ks attached to traditional elementary schools are covered by the current statute, and 60 predators are violating the law which prohibits Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within the set distance, the IDC said.
In response to the frightening findings of the IDC analysis, two senators have introduced legislation to close the loophole.
Sen. Jeff Klein’s (D-Bronx) bill expands the 1,000-foot prohibition to include pre-kindergarten and kindergarten facilities.
“It flies in the face of spirit of the law that standalone pre-kindergartens and kindergartens are not considered schools,” Klein said.
And Sen. Tony Avella’s (D-Bayside) proposed law would require uniform standards for measuring the distance between a sex offender’s home and nearby schools. This will clarify and correct any discrepancies in determining the distance between a sex offender’s residence and schools to ensure compliance with the current law.
“It is unconceivable to me that sex offenders can be residing within one thousand feet of Pre-K program locations in the city. Current law prohibits them from living within that distance from schools grounds, but incredibly, they can live near Pre-K facilities. This is just unreal,” said Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “We must act immediately to prevent this situation from happening, since it endangers the lives of thousands of children. We must ensure we keep those who preyed on our kids as far away as possible from schools. This is why the Assembly must act and pass these two bills that will go a long way to protect our most vulnerable New Yorkers. I want to thank Senators Klein and Avella for their efforts on this particular front.”
The IDC report highlighted three sex offenders living within 1,000 feet of Pre-K programs in borough communities Queens Village, St. Albans, and Woodside. It also spotlighted the cases of three sex offenders living within 1,000 feet of schools in Jamaica, Rego Park, and St. Albans.
“As lawmakers, we have a duty to make sure that our children are always protected to the best of our state’s abilities. We also have a duty to make sure that the laws that are designed to protect us are as clear and enforceable as possible,” Avella added. “It is my hope that, by requiring uniform standards, my legislation can once and for all clear up any confusion that existed so that we can begin enforcing this important law.”