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Young wants sex offender-free group homes

The Spectator - 12/18/2018

Dec. 18--ALBANY -- Senator Catharine Young (R-Olean) has sent a letter to the Commissioner of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to halt the practice of placing convicted sex offenders in state-run group homes for the developmentally disabled.

The practice came to light after the families of four group home residents in Saratoga County went public after discovering that a Level 2 sex offender was scheduled to be placed in the home after being released from prison, without their notification or consent.

A subsequent investigation by the Jonathan Carey Foundation, revealed that approximately 40 paroled Level 2 and 3 sex offenders with diagnosed developmental disabilities are currently housed in state-run homes and facilities. The report also found that the families of disabled individuals living in these homes are not notified when a sex offender is placed in the residence.

"It is unconscionable that the safety of New York's most vulnerable residents is being compromised by a state policy that places registered sex offenders in group homes," said Senator Young. "This practice places occupants and visitors in a potentially dangerous situation where they may be exposed to individuals who have committed serious felonies such as sexual assault and rape."

"The parents of developmentally disabled sons and daughters spend their lives fighting to protect their children from every type of possible threat. Most would never imagine that the greatest danger to their loved ones might come from within the group home where they live."

Senator Young noted that the Senate has been pushing for action on this issue, initiating and passing Senate Bill 3027 that would prohibit the placement of any registered sex offender in a community residence operated by the Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The bill has not been acted on by the Assembly.

She also expressed strong support for Senate Bill 9169, that would require sex offenders with developmental disabilities to be placed in specially designated residences.

"I feel strongly that these offenders should be housed separately from other OPWDD clients. This solution would enable the agency to fulfill its responsibilities to all parties while simultaneously protecting innocent New Yorkers who reside in group homes," Senator Young said.

"Taking this step would also ease the worries of residents in neighborhoods where group homes are sited. I have received many concerned calls in recent weeks from residents of my district who have group homes nearby and who are worried about the possible threat these offenders pose to area children and the public in general. Securing support for future group homes may be even more difficult unless we take action."

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(c)2018 The Evening Tribune, Hornell, N.Y.

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