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Queens Chronicle

Saffran wants kids protected in city

He’s running for 19th Dist. Council

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

City Council Candidate Dennis Saffran, a Republican running for the District 19 City Council seat, announced Monday that if elected he will introduce legislation to further protect children from molesters.

At a press conference held at the Willets Point Playground in Whitestone, the candidate, an attorney, said he had won an appellate court victory in Nassau County that allows over 100 municipalities throughout the state to continue to bar registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, or their own victims.

Pointing to five such predators who live near schools and playgrounds in the 19th District, Saffran called on the City Council to enact similar restrictions.

The press conference location on 166th Street is adjacent to PS 209 and near the North Side School, an early-childhood charter school on Utopia Parkway. It’s only a block away from the home of Arthur Fisher, a Level 2 sex offender who was convicted of sexually abusing a girl less than 11 years old, Saffran said.

He released a map and chart showing that 22 registered sex offenders live in the 19th District, including at least five near parks, daycare centers or schools.

Among them, according to Saffran, are John Shea, who raped a 9-year-old girl, and was classified as a Level 3 sex offender — meaning he is highly likely to repeat his offense — living two blocks from McNeil Park in College Point; John Prunty, a violent sex offender convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a child, who resides a block away from St. Luke’s School in Whitestone; and Peter Legoff, who purposefully established a relationship with a 5-year-old in order to commit first-degree sexual abuse, who lives a block away from Powell’s Cove Park in College Point.

Saffran praised the appeals court ruling, saying: “This decision is a victory for parents across the state, allowing communities to pass laws that place the safety of children above the rights of dangerous predators.”

However, he added: “It is unacceptable that New York City has not passed such legislation providing our children with the same protection as the children in Nassau County and over 100 other localities around the state. And it is unacceptable that parents in Northeast Queens have to send their children to schools and playgrounds within walking distance of convicted child rapists and sexual predators.”

Saffran’s comments about the ruling echoed the statements of Parents for Megan’s Law chief Laura Ahearn, with whom he worked as director of the Center for the Community Interest, a national nonprofit focused on quality-of-life and anticrime reforms. The Long Island-based Ahearn called the decision “a tremendous victory for the community. The message is loud and clear — the protection of children is a top priority.”

Saffran will oppose Democrat Paul Vallone in the November election. The seat is being vacated by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who did not seek re-election after being indicted on federal bribery charges. The district includes Auburndale, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, Little Neck and Whitestone.

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1 comment:

  • oncefallendotcom posted at 9:58 am on Fri, Oct 4, 2013.

    oncefallendotcom Posts: 1

    Residency Laws are popular but ineffective laws. They have never been proven to be an effective crime control measure; instead, studies and actual experiences with residency restrictions have suggested these laws increase instability and create incentives to commit new crimes. Failure to register charges, homelessness, and even overall sex crime rates have increased in accordance with these laws. The more restrictive the law, the less available housing becomes available, compelling those registrants trying to live by the letter of the law to reside in the few unrestricted areas left in the area, forming clusters.

    Iowa and South Florida had both passed tough residency laws with disastrous consequences. Iowa found an increase of homeless and absconding offenders, an increase of sex crime arrests and convictions, and clustering of registrants; in 2009, they scaled back residency laws for most registrants, but of the few that still must abide by the law, the same problems are still in effect. In Miami-Dade County, the homeless offenders have been shuffled around various locations across the county, from parking lots to under a bridge. Unlike Iowa, Florida legislators and courts continue to justify their laws and even seek to increase statewide restrictions as a “solution” to South Florida’s difficulties with the residency laws.

    While the 2005 Doe v. Miller case upheld residency restrictions based on the civil/ regulatory argument of Smith v. Doe case of 2003, subsequent courts have disagreed with the findings of the 8th Circuit Courts. Courts applying the “Mendoza-Martinez” factors have determined residency restrictions are so onerous they cross the threshold into punitive regardless of intent. The restrictions are essentially a modern day banishment, meet the traditional aims of punishment/ retribution, and are excessive in their stated purpose. In regards to property owners, the act of forcing a registrant out of his or her home is similar to Eminent Domain or similar laws, and thus violates the Fifth Amendment protection against taking without just compensation. Other states have ruled that the traditional goals of rehabilitation and corrections, and even the alleged “civil” goals of Megan’s law overrule or preempt the goals of residency restrictions.