ALBANY, N.Y. — Group homes would be forced to disclose the sex offender status of prospective residents under a new bill making its way through the New York State Senate.
The bill was drafted by State Senator James Seward (R — Oneonta) in response to a proposal that first surfaced this March to house sex offenders at a Danby group home.
The proposal drew significant criticism from the community and was later withdrawn.
“Clearly, neighbors deserve to know if a group home will be housing sex offenders. Omitting this piece of information, either deliberately or inadvertently, is wrong and could endanger neighboring residents,” Seward said in a news release.
The news release said the Danby debate was the impetus for the bill.
“Several months ago, plans to house two sex offenders in a group home in the town generated a great deal of concern. One of the main issues was that the public was kept in the dark about the proposed home until very late in the process,” the news release said.
Officials with the Unity House had maintained that the home would be safe; they later changed the plans, citing community opposition.
The bill has been sent to the NY State assembly, Seward’s news release said.
“Public safety should not be put at risk due to legal loopholes. The concerned citizens and local officials in the Town of Danby are to be commended for speaking out and bringing this situation to light,” Seward said in a news release. “Now, I am hopeful the assembly will act on this measure as well so other communities won’t have to be kept in the dark about the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders.”