Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Assemblyman Miller: Time To Get Tough On Sex Offenders

In February 2010, we learned that a registered sex offender was a children’s karate instructor in Glendale. Earlier this month allegations surfaced that a convicted sex offender, who was teaching at St. Mel’s school in Flushing, had inappropriate contact with one of his students. Over the past year I have uncovered several flaws in how the State deals with sex offenders. This broken system has put our children in direct contact with sex offenders. This cannot stand and we must change it.

This issue is very important to me and I will not rest until it is solved. We have a simple problem: our laws do not protect our children. The sex offender in Glendale never needed to pass a background check. St. Mel’s teacher was a Level One or “low risk” sex offender, and so his prior offense is not public information. Common sense says that people who have been convicted of crimes against children should not be working with children. Just because it is common sense does not mean it is State law. I introduced a bill in the State Assembly that would make employers responsible for their employees. If an employer is found hiring a sex offender in a position which would put the offender in direct contact with children, the employer would receive a fine. This creates an incentive for the employer to check all of their employees. I also introduced a bill to give the public the information they need on Level One sex offenders. Unfortunately these bills have yet to come up for a vote. I understand that laws can take a long time to make, but while we wait our children are in harm’s way.

To adequately address the issue of sex offenders working within our community we need to focus on three things:
  • Informing the Public. We need to know who is working with our children so we can know they are safe.
  • Employer Responsibility. We cannot always trust that criminals will not commit crimes. Schools should be certain that the people they hire can be trusted around their students.
  • Protecting our Children. We all work hard to protect our children and it is time that our laws start doing the same.
For every moment we do nothing, we are putting our children in harm’s way. It is time for our laws to reflect common sense. It is time to make my bills a law. It is time to get tough on sex offenders.