(Oneida, NY – May 2012) This week, the Assembly passed A9229-2011, a bill that now heads to the Senate. Co-sponsored by Assemblyman Brindisi and Senator Griffo, it is in direct response to the rape and murder of Linda Turner by registered sex offender Robert Blainey. It requires that registrants take updated photographs every 90 days, as opposed to the current requirements depending on the registrant’s assigned risk level.

Blainey absconded while on parole. When found, his appearance was drastically different than the photograph police had issued to the public. Many wondered if a more accurate photo might have yielded his capture before he had the chance to take a woman’s life.

A9229-2011 certainly sounds like a good idea. Without close examination, however, New York risks finding itself in an unpleasant situation that could have been easily avoided, but not quickly overcome.

Historically, sex offender legislation has been based on particularly heinous, high-profile cases that incite public fury and political grandstanding. When reacting to something deplorable, we often support anything that sounds like it will do something to avenge the innocent and send a message to the “bad guys.”

Unfortunately, our emotionally fueled laws have yet to achieve any results. According to empirical research, the public registry has had no impact whatsoever on sex crime rates. Recidivism rates (3.5 percent in 2007) for registered sex are still as surprisingly low as before SORA. Offense rates for first-time offenders continue to correlate with overall, general arrest rates. Despite the never-ending passage of “tough” legislation, innocent people continue to be victimized. Why?

Ninety-six percent of sex crimes in New York are committed by people who have no prior conviction for one and, therefore, are not on the registry. Laws that exclusively target registered offenders might speak to the desire for revenge, but that’s about it. Unwillingness to tackle the uncomfortable reality that most victims are assaulted by family members or trusted acquaintances behind closed doors doesn’t prevent sex crimes.

We should absolutely encourage healthy recovery for victims and just punishment for perpetrators, but shouldn’t we also support laws that place just as much importance on preventing these crimes in the first place?

Oneida County has one of the highest concentrations of registered sex offenders in New York state. There is one person who handles the sex offender photography and record maintenance.

One.

Increasing the workload for this person three-fold would result in significant delays and increased margin of error – the very issues that A9229-2011 is trying to reduce. Counties and local municipalities all over the state would experience the same problems. There’s only one way to solve them: more staff and more money.

Let’s ask Senator Griffo to reconsider his support of this bill and tell him to allocate resources toward more effective solutions.

Shana Rowan, USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry, Oneida

By martha

4 thoughts on “Consider the Unintended Consequences”
  1. This must be the dumbest knee-jerk reaction ever… if someone wants to disguise their appearance, 89 days should suffice to cut / dye / change your hair, grow a beard, buy a wig, new glasses, etc.

    I agree with the author that resources will be better spent on crime prevention, rather than crime solving. But that does not get the headlines the politicians so covet in their quest for re-election.

    Please put your thinking cap on, Senator Griffo.

  2. Griffo is pulling the old “lets go after sex offenders” trick to divert attention away from the looming investigation into his close relationship with disgraced NY governor Eliot Spitzer, along with his opposition to same-sex marriage, which is growing support across the US. If only he would spend as much time researching facts as he does pandering to the conservative right-wing nuts of this state.

  3. I get frustrated trying to figure the logic behind this bill. The perpetrator in this crime allegedly absconded and therefore changed his appearance. How is this piece of legislation supposed to prevent a person from absconding and changing their appearance? This sounds like more government make-work for a state with a fluffy budget and nothing better to focus on.
    I can only figure that this is a “Gotcha” to try and incriminate the ex-offenders who will have to remember to get their picture taken every 90 days. What is the punishment for failing to show up for picture day? I do not believe it will prevent any person intent on killing another individual regardless.

  4. Absconded? So just how did the registry be of any help to anyone? Where were all these Federal Officers doing the nation wide Sex Offender Compliance Sweeps? Maybe, just maybe, all of these compliance sweeps are useless because there are too many on the list which do not need to be there and people like Robert Blainey, which are the most dangerous, are so easily hidden within a great cloud of registrants, can get away with absconding and perpetrate a crime.
    Assemblyman Brindisi and Senator Griffo, why don’t you put that in your notes while writing more useless bills. While your at it, why don’t your make notes of the other victims which will occur until you remove your dunce caps.
    People are beginning to wise up to the redundant and useless rhetoric about being tough on Sex Offenders which is only politically influenced.
    Do you really want to do something? Then concentrate only on those which pose the real threat, because currently, you are the real threat.
    The rape and murder of Linda Turner was YOUR fault for the failure of recognizing the science and statistics. Had viable legislation been presented and passed, it could have prevented it.
    The registry is too large and needs to be reduced to only the most dangerous, then and ONLY then will it ever be a useful tool.

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