Last week the prestigious New York City Bar Association hosted an important live panel discussion, “Banished from New York City.” A packed house heard about New York’s draconian sex laws including one with the innocent sounding name of SARA that has people in prison held *past* their release dates. Kudos to Christina Wong and the panel organizers and everybody at the NYC Bar Association for bringing attention to this issue. Here’s more information about the event and a link to the archived audio – have a listen! Also below is a news story for background. –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire firstname.lastname@example.org
Banished from New York City:
The Legality, Policy Considerations, and Practical Implications of the Housing Restrictions Faced by People on the Sex Offense Registry
In New York City, there are hundreds of men and women on the sex offense registry who are subject to residency restrictions under the Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA) that prevent them from living within 1,000 feet of a school. This little known law has created enormous constitutional problems. In densely-populated New York City there are virtually no residences that comply with these restrictions. When no SARA-compliant housing available, prisons are holding people past their release date–a time period that usually extends longer than a year. This panel discussion addresses the history and policy behind the residency restrictions, the impact of SARA on people who have committed sex offenses, and the legal challenges being made on behalf of people affected by SARA.
Michael Burke, Hodges Walsh Messemer & Burke, LLP
Bill Dobbs, Publisher, The Dobbs Wire, sex offense law and policy newsletter; Advisor, Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center (SOLPRC) at Mitchell Hamline Law School
Emily Horowitz, Professor and Chairperson, St. Francis College, Sociology and Criminal Justice Department
Susannah Karlin, Licensed Social Worker, Center for Appellate Litigation
Robert Newman, Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice, Special Litigation Unit
Gregory Williams, The Fortune Society
Camilla Hsu, Appellate Counsel, Center for Appellate Litigation
New York City Bar Association Criminal Justice Operations Committee
New York Sex Offense Working Group
New York Times | Aug. 21, 2014
Housing Restrictions Keep Sex Offenders in Prison Beyond Release Dates
By Joseph Goldstein
Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that governs where they can live.
The law, which has been in effect since 2005, restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.
But in February, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which runs the prisons and parole system, said the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits because of the proximity of schools. MORE: