|For Further Information Contact:|
|William R. Steinhaus, County Executive (845) 486-2000|
|Adrian “Butch” Anderson, County Sheriff (845) 486-3800|
DutchessCounty Executive William R. Steinhaus and Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson are pleased to announce a joint e-Government initiative involving a local Sex Offender Registry that is now available to the public and county police agencies through the Dutchess County web site (http://www.dutchessny.gov/).
The intent of the registry is to provide information to the community and local police about certain convicted sex offenders, in accordance with New York State Corrections Law, entitled Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). SORA originally became effective in January 1996. SORA is New York’s version of New Jersey’s “Megan’s Law”.
Steinhaus stated, “This is a very important children’s safety issue so my goal is to make the availability of this information as easy as possible. With the click of a mouse residents in Dutchess County will now be able to obtain critical public safety information about the communities in which they live. With this system, all eyes are open from county and local law enforcement to protect our children. Moreover, now there will be the added value of all residents to know when an offender is living in their community as an additional safeguard.”
Sheriff Anderson added, “The local registry, one of the first of its kind within counties will be an asset to the community and local police agencies. This program brings the offenders in our area down to an instant availability check for the community and police to utilize.”
This new internet-based system provides information and photos about certain sex offenders residing in Dutchess County, following the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) regulations. It should be understood only information to the public on level 2 (moderate risk) and level 3 (high risk) offenders may be released through this method. Level 1 (low risk) offenders may only be viewed by police agencies. Also, while the exact address of level 3 offenders can be provided to the public, the law provides that only an approximate address based on zip code can be provided for level 2 offenders.
This first phase of the registry involves offenders the Sheriff’s Office has been given responsibility to monitor by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). As a next step the county is encouraging all local police agencies to contribute to this important web site registry in order to provide the public with as much centralized access to sex offender information as possible.
While the County is pleased with this initiative, it cautions residents that the SORA law has limitations. The law does not require all convicted sex offenders register.
“Its 24-hour availability will be an instant tool for police officers to immediately check on registered offenders who they may come in contact with as part of their work,” said Sheriff Anderson. “It will give them an updated status on offenders being monitored by County law enforcement. It will also be an asset to the local community, and allow them to look into registered “Type 2 and 3” offenders and their status. Overall, it will be an effective tool to bring citizens and police together to work as a team to safeguard our children and our community,” the Sheriff concluded.
Steinhaus said, “The Sex Offender Registry was developed by our Dutchess County Office of Computer Information Systems (OCIS) and the Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the County Attorney’s Office and our Criminal Justice Council’s Sex Offender Management Committee.” The Executive emphasized, “This is another example of ongoing collaborative efforts by Dutchess County agencies to protect our residents.”
“The registry is one of many extremely important services to county government as we continue to move government practices and services into the 21st Century,” Steinhaus added.
The County’s e-government approach to informing citizens of sex offenders living among them is an outgrowth of County Executive Steinhaus’s 2003 initiative to create the Dutchess County Offender Management Project Steering Committee.
At the direction of Mr. Steinhaus the County’s Department of Probation and Community Corrections applied for a grant from the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs to aid Dutchess County’s Project to Enhance Management of Adult and Juvenile Sex Offenders for the necessary funding that the County could utilize in dealing with horrific sex offending crimes. In September of that same year the County was awarded $218,242 on its grant application. This funding allowed the County to enhance the current programs and resources used to control sex offenders living in the community. The Steering Committee is comprised of many community partners and several county departments including Probation and Community Corrections, the Public Defender, Mental Hygiene, the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.