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Sep 30, 2008 9:45 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

New bill seeks to place cap on number of sex offenders living in trailers

Sep 30, 2008 9:45 AM

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has drafted a bill that would keep the county from placing any more than four sex offenders in one location unless it provides for the monitoring of movement away from the temporary housing.

Last spring, the county’s Department of Social Services placed a small trailer capable of housing up to eight homeless registered sex offenders on the grounds of the county jail in Riverside. In recent weeks, that small trailer was replaced with a larger trailer, allowing the housing of 20 sex offenders.

Residents of Flanders and Riverside who were opposed to the original placement of a trailer to house sex offenders have been outraged over the expansion. Michael Brewer, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, charged that the area was being used “as a dumping ground” by Suffolk County.

Mr. Schneiderman, in whose district the jail and trailers are located, calls the expansion “a serious issue” and says he is especially concerned about the pedophiles in the larger group. “A significant portion of the 20 sex offenders will be pedophiles,” he said Monday. “There are three schools within a half-mile radius of the trailer. There is a library. And there is a major tourist attraction for children, the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium.”

The recidivism rate among pedophiles is substantial, said Mr. Schneiderman, a former teacher. “They are wired in such a way that they are aroused by children,” he said, and many of them “can’t help themselves.”

His bill would restrict to four the number of sex offenders who could be placed in one location by the Department of Social Services. He said he understands the department has a legal obligation to provide housing for homeless sex offenders, but he said a particular area should not be put “at increased risk.”

If the county provided added security, more than four sex offenders could be housed in one place, under Mr. Schneiderman’s measure.

During the day, the sex offenders are transported by the county from the trailer mainly to jobs, he noted. But when they return, he wants the monitoring of movement “when they go to get some food or wander off into the community.” There are no kitchen facilities in the trailer, he noted.

His bill is now being reviewed by the legislature’s counsel, but at this point Mr. Schneiderman said he wants, at the very least, pedophiles who are among the sex offenders to be “chaperoned” upon leaving the trailer, or to wear a GPS ankle bracelet so they can be tracked.

All Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders might be required to be escorted or to wear GPS ankle bracelets in the final version of the measure, which he intends to introduce when the legislature next meets, on October 14 in Hauppauge.

Registered sex offenders are divided by level with this based on “the likelihood of a repeated offense,” said Mr. Schneiderman. Level 1 offenders have a low likelihood of repeating their crime. Level 2 are seen as having a “moderate” chance. And Level 3 sex offenders have a “high” chance.

The Department of Social Services set up a trailer for sex offenders on the grounds of the county jail after controversy arose over a trailer it placed last year near the Suffolk Police Academy’s shooting range off Old Country Road in Westhampton.

Mr. Schneiderman said representatives of the department and other county officials maintained there would be a maximum of security on the jail grounds. He said the “impression” they left was that the trailer would be “behind barbed wire.” However, he noted that he was recently among officials given a tour of the site by a Riverhead Town assessor, Mason Haas, who showed them a gaping hole in a fence that encircles the lot where the trailer is parked. “And it was not even a security fence,” said Mr. Schneiderman. The sex offenders, he said, could easily slip through the opening.

“The county has to protect the community,” said Mr. Schneiderman.

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death penalty should be administered to level 3 sex offenders.
By thehamptonsaregreat@yahoo.com (5), watermill on Oct 1, 08 9:27 PM