ALBANY – Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson (D, Newburgh) have introduced legislation to close a loophole in the existing law and prohibit sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a childcare provider, a preschool, or any place where pre-kindergarten or kindergarten instruction is provided.
This legislation comes in response to the current placement of released high-risk sex offenders being temporarily housed at Orange Lake Motel in the Town of Newburgh, a few hundred feet away from a childcare center.
The bill that the lawmakers introduced (Bill S.4891) prohibits sex offenders whose victim was a child and level three sex offenders from knowingly being within 1,000 feet of a child care provider, preschool or any pre-kindergarten or kindergarten; this also includes other classified sex offenders where the criminal act was with a minor.
This legislation was developed based on conversations Skoufis and Jacobson’s offices had with state agencies, local law enforcement, the daycare, and the parents of children who attend.
Due to the time sensitivity of the situation, the legislators are also calling on the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Orange County Department of Social Services to remove the Orange Lake Motel from its list of temporary housing locations for convinced sex offenders who are now released. This would immediately remove the individuals in the motel from that location.
“No parent should ever have to drop their child off at daycare and simultaneously be filled with the anxiety that their child could be in harm’s way,” said Skoufis. “That’s why I’m going to continue fighting tooth-and-nail to ensure that state agencies remove these individuals from this location, and that our bill passes so that this doesn’t happen in the future.”
“This is a situation that common sense dictates should never have occurred,” said Jacobson, who said along with Skoufis, are working on “both short-term by working to relocate these men and long-term by permanently correcting the situation through new legislation.”
Manette Bowman, whose grandchild attends Building Blocks Child Care and who organized an online petition garnering thousands of signatures said, “We must do everything possible to protect our children. I started this petition because my grandchild attends this daycare and it concerns not only me, but thousands of members of the community, that these individuals are housed across the street from where our children are every day.”
Maria Marino, the owner of Building Blocks Child Care joined with the lawmakers calling for the motel to be removed from the list of housing options.