HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County lawmakers have voted unanimously to move 38 homeless sex offenders out of two construction trailers, and place them in scattered locations throughout the county.
The Suffolk County Legislature passed legislation to move the sex offenders by a vote of 17-0, CBS 2 reported. The sex offenders are currently housed in trailers in Riverside and Westhampton, and will now be moved to shelters in various spots.
Lawmakers easily approved the proposal over opposition from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which accused the Legislature of acting in haste to pass a bill that is not likely to increase public safety.
NYCLU Suffolk County Chapter Director Amol Sinha commended lawmakers for moving the homeless sex offenders to more permanent housing, but accused the county of “attempting to enact major revisions to its sex offender management plan in an unnecessarily hasty way.”
Sinha said in testimony before the vote that it was not clear whether the new law would achieve its goals of protecting children and preventing future sexual assaults, because it was rushed through the legislature without any discussion about its strengths and weaknesses.
The plan was presented to the public in a draft format with few details just five days ago, Sinha said. Furthermore, no experts in sex offender management were brought in to evaluate whether the plan would actually improve public safety before it passed, Sinha added.
And as to whether moving the homeless sex offenders will, in fact, protect the public against sexual assaults, Sinha said the answer is probably no. He called the proposal “grounded in misinformation about sexual assault and the people who perpetrate these crimes.”
Contrary to popular belief, Sinha said, sex offenders are not among the likeliest offenders to commit more crimes. In fact, he said, the recidivism rate for sex offenders in New York State is only 2 to 4 percent depending on the crime.
Furthermore, most sexual assaults are not committed by strangers in dark alleyways with long records of offense, but acquaintances and family members who are usually committing a crime for the first time, Sinha said. He argued that daily home checks and more monitoring of sex offenders is thus a waste of time and efforts.
But published reports have pointed out that two trailers full of homeless sex offenders have been highly unpopular among neighbors in the affluent Hamptons.
The occupants include convicted rapists, sexual predators, and child sex offenders, according to published reports.
One of the trailers is located in the parking lot of a prison, but the other is within walking distance of a retirement home where residents are worried that the occupants could attack their grandchildren when they come for visits, according to a New York Times report.
The trailers have been in place for almost six years. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had said the trailers would be shut down by New Year’s Day, but missed the deadline, the newspaper reported.
Do you think removing the trailers is the right decision? Leave your comments below…