Editorial: Shelter plan is better for sex offenders

One of the sex-offender trailers owned by Suffolk

One of the sex-offender trailers owned by Suffolk County Photo Credit: Handout, 2007

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Housing homeless sex offenders in Suffolk County's shelter system -- but away from homeless families -- and more intensely monitoring all registered sex offenders, is a plan that could finally solve a problem that has bedeviled the county for years.

The Suffolk legislature should approve the proposal, which would allow Suffolk to close trailers in Westhampton and Riverside currently housing 38 homeless offenders, and avoid clustering the men in any other communities.

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Rather than continuing to lavish time, attention and resources on the few offenders who are homeless, the plan developed by Suffolk County police would shift the focus to all 1,016 registered sex offenders living in the county. It would require police to make regular checks to ensure each of those offenders is actually living where he says he is, and also reports where he works.

Parents for Megan's Law, a nonprofit organization working to prevent the sexual abuse of children, would help with address verification, community education and also provide a smartphone app that residents could use to report offenders who violate registration rules.

It's a better approach than the $4-million proposal for six mini-shelters that incited opposition from residents concerned about where they'd be built.

Suffolk legislators should embrace this rational solution to the vexing problem.


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