FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2005
Schumer: Thousands Of Sex Offenders Are Unlisted And Undetected Living In NYC – Patchwork Of State Sex Offender Laws Create Massive Loopholes
Out of State Predators Can Move to New York While Authorities are Left in the Dark Last Month Convicted Sex Offender from Washington Found as a Foster Parent to Over 20 Kids in New York! Schumer to Unveil New Nationwide Legislation to Create Tracking System, End State-By-State Disparity In Registration and Notification Procedures
Last month, a convicted sex offender was found in upstate New York serving as a foster parent. The man, who had been convicted of two counts of rape in Washington was able to move to New York and act as a foster parent for over 20 children and even adopt a child before authorities realized that he had a criminal history. Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that in the tri state area alone the laws governing sex offenders are inconsistent, potentially causing thousands of sex offenders to fall through the cracks every single year. In light of this, Schumer called for a National Sex Offender registry to accurately and thoroughly track sexual predators even as they move from state to state.
“Convicted sex offenders shouldn’t be able to escape the letter of the law just by moving across state lines,” Schumer said. "Having access to information about sexual predators in your community is a right, not a privilege, and parents should not have to go through a bureaucratic morass just to assess whether their neighborhoods are safe.”
"As a prosecutor who is entrusted with the safety of our children, it is frustrating to see so many sexual predators be released from prison only to again strike our most vulnerable citizens. As we have seen in the tragic stories in the news, current law differs from state to state and in sum does not do enough to monitor these sex offenders and prevent them from claiming additional victims. I commend Senator Schumer for taking the lead on this issue and fighting for federal standards for the monitoring of dangerous sexual predators," said Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan who stood with Schumer at the news conference.
Schumer today explained how sex offender registration requirements differ widely from state to state and as a result, many get lost in the shuffle, fall off the sex offender list, and are no longer tracked. Nationwide there are over 550,000 sex offenders, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Parents for Megans law estimates that 24% or between 100,000 and 150,000 aren’t even registered, meaning over 100,000 sex offenders are roaming the streets unknown to local law enforcement.
Schumer is joining Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to push for immediate passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (S. 1086). Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:
• Create A National Sex Offender Registry: a new federally maintained sex offender DNA database will be used by law enforcement and prosecutors.
• Create A Stronger Registration Standards for Offenders: convicted offenders will have to register prior to release from prison or supervised release. Current law requires registration after release and sex offenders will have to re-register twice a year (every three months for a sexually violent predator) – not just once. And the duration to register for a first-time sex offender increases from 10 years to 20 years and for second offenders and sexually violent offenders for their lifetime. Additionally if there is a change in status (job, address, etc) offenders are required to register that change immediately.
• Create A Searchable Statewide Sex Offender Registry: Requires the states, not local governments, to maintain a multi-field, searchable sex offender registry.
• Establishes Strict Penalties For Failure To Register: Makes failing to register or to update registry information a federal felony.
• Links State Registries so that an offense committed in one state does not go unrecognized in another.
Thousands of sex offenders are unaccounted for because of varying state laws. In fact, in the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR), the database used by the FBI, there are only 385,343 names listed. This means that out of the 550,000 sex offenders registered with states, the government can not identify 165,000 of them. The burden of registration falls to the states to register with the FBI and not all states have the technology, training and resources to do so.
In New York, there are 21,000 registered sex offenders with an estimated 7,000 who aren’t registered. In Connecticut there are 4,000 registered sex offenders with an estimated 1,300 that aren’t on the books, and in New Jersey there are 10,000 registered sex offenders with an estimated 3,350 that are walking free with no record of their past. That means in the tri- state area alone there are 35,000 registered sex offenders and an additional 11,650 sex offenders that aren’t registered.
For example if a sex offender moves from New Jersey to New York State and fails to register, the only way to find them is through the FBI database. While some states do a good job keeping their numbers up to date for the national database, others, like Utah have 8 names in the NSOR database, but over 8,000 sex offenders. California only has 49,000 in the NSOR database, but over 100,000 registered sex offenders. If a sex offender moved to NY and wasn’t on the NSOR no one would know his whereabouts, unless he committed another crime.
According to the Department Of Justice, released sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for crime and, on average, child molesters only served 43% of sentences.
Of the total 5,191 sex offenders in New York City there are 1341 in the Bronx, 1555 in Brooklyn, 1116 in Manhattan, 960 in Queens, and 219 in Staten Island. Of the 21,514 sex offenders in New York state, 5,362 offenders have Level 3 status, according to the state Department of Criminal Justice. Level 3 sex offenders have the highest rate of recidivism.
“The bottom line is each state has different laws, different standards, and different ways of keeping track of people, and without a standardized federal procedure, dangerous criminals are falling through the cracks,” Schumer said.