COOPERSTOWN -- An influential Otsego County lawmaker said Friday he will support the repeal of a county law that restricts the ability of sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and swimming pools.

Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, the chairman of the public safety and legal affairs committee of the Board of Representatives, said the law is badly flawed and fails to give the public any real protection from sex offenders.

His comments came in reaction to a report in Friday's edition of The Daily Star, indicating that the Child Safety Zone Committee wants the county board to revisit the law to determine if it has been fulfilling its objectives.

"If it creates homelessness or difficulties (for sex offenders) in being employed, then you are actually increasing the risks," the article quoted Susan Dalesandro, director of Otsego County Mental Health Services Department, as saying.

Dalesandro is also the chairwoman of the committee that has been administering the Child Safety Zone Law and processing applications for waivers from sex offenders with concerns that the statute impedes their ability to get jobs and housing.

Powers said the law provides incentives for sex offenders to move to rural towns, where "the kids are much more vulnerable when they are riding their bikes along a dirt road. At least in the cities, there are people around" who could stop or prevent an inappropriate encounter.

"A lot of people from law enforcement agencies have told me that this law really works against what they are trying to do" in monitoring sex offenders, Powers said.

Powers pointed out he envisioned problems arising from the law when it was first proposed in 2007. He said he voted against the proposed statute then because "you could see that it was going to relocate these guys out into the country. I think it was poorly thought out and I said that at the time."

Dalesandro indicated similar statutes in some other jurisdictions have been ruled unconstitutional. She said no sex offender has yet to mount a legal challenge to the Otsego County law.

Powers said the public safety panel is prepared to review all information forwarded to it by the Child Safety Zone Committee.

Trending Video

Recommended for you