I often receive questions concerning the restrictions on registered sex offenders who live in the area of schools. Most of us have received those backpacked communications from schools advising that a registered sex offender relocated to a residence within the community. As a parent, I know how upsetting they can be. I’ve outlined some information for parents to use as a reference regarding sex offenders living nearby.
Designation of Sex Offender Risk Levels
Level 1 sex offenders, or low recidivist risk, must register for 20 years, unless they have a designation (sexual predator, sexually violent offender, or predicate sex offender), in which case they must register for life. Level 2 offenders, or moderate recidivist risk, and Level 3 offenders, or high recidivist risk, must register for life. Recidivist, put simply, is a repeat offender.
New York State law restricts Level 3 registered sex offenders from being within 1,000 feet of a school in a parked vehicle or knowingly being on school grounds when on parole or probation. A Level 3 sex offender is designated as such due to their highest recidivist potential. They have a lifetime requirement to be registered and prohibited from being within 1,000 feet of a school or on school grounds.
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Level 1 and 2 registered sex offenders are ONLY restricted from being within 1,000 feet of school grounds while on parole or probation. Therefore, under New York State law there are no residency restrictions once parole and probation has been lifted.
By law, only Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders are listed on the public directory. This directory now posts multiple photographs of registered sex offenders, as they become available, to provide New Yorkers with additional information to keep their families safe (per the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services or NYS DCJS). A notification will not be issued to residents when a Level 1 offender lives nearby.
You can view the New York State Sex Offender Registry at criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor/. You can search the registry by name to see if someone is a registered sex offender. You can also search by zip code or county to view a list of all sex offenders who live in a certain area.
Basic Requirements of Registered Sex Offenders
- Report annually where they live by signing and returning an annual verification form to DCJS within 10 days after receiving it.
- Notify DCJS in writing of a new address no later than 10 days after moving.
- Report in person to a local police agency to have a current photograph taken every three years (Level 1 and 2 offenders) or every year (Level 3 offenders).
- Notify DCJS in writing of any institution of higher education they are attending, enrolled, living or employed. Any change in status must be reported to DCJS no later than 10 days after the change.
- Provide in writing internet service providers, internet screen names and email accounts.
- Level 3 offenders and offenders with a sexual predator designation must personally verify their addresses every 90 days with law enforcement. Law enforcement may at that time photograph a level 3 offender if that offender’s appearance has changed.
The above is a basic list of sex offender responsibilities. You can refer to Correction Law Article 6-C for more information at criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor/.
By Mike Reilly, District 31 Community Education Council President and former NYPD Lieutenant