DIGGING DEEPER: Level 1 sex offenders coming off the registry - WBNG.com: Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

DIGGING DEEPER: Level 1 sex offenders coming off the registry

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(WBNG) -- The names of hundreds of sex offenders across the state are being removed from the registry that helps keep the public informed.

Level 1 sex offenders have been coming off the registry since the beginning of the year. It is a result of what is known as Megan's Law. It was passed in 1996 to give the public access to more information regarding sex offenders, for example where they live and what they look like.

The law is named after Megan Kanka -- who was raped and murdered by her neighbor when she was seven years old in 1994. Her neighbor had two previous convictions for sexually assaulting young girls. Megan's Law requires certain classes of sex offenders to be listed on a registry for 20 years.

A total of 1,359 offenders who have met their statutory obligation to register for 20 years will be removed from the Registry by the end of 2016.

"If I stopped and tried to think about it, it would probably drive me crazy," said Sgt. Michael Clapp of the Broome County Sheriff's Office. "There's nothing I can do about it. I can't change it."

Law enforcement of all levels have had to watch as of Level 1 sex offenders are removed from the registry. The offenders coming off the registry no longer have to update their address of photograph.

The level of sex offenders ranges from one to three, but those classifications are not based on the offense. An offender’s risk level is determined by a judge after a hearing in court, not by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services or the Registry. In addition to setting an offender’s risk level, a judge determines whether an offender should be designated as a sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender.

Level 1 offenders are the least likely to commit another sexually based offense.

"The offenses for a level one sex offender can range from any offense that is considered to be a sexually motivated offense," said Clapp. "It can be misdemeanors. It could be felonies. It can be any offense that puts you on the sex offender registry."

Those offenses can range from rape in the third degree to lesser crimes like sexual misconduct. Police say many of the level ones are first-time offenders.

Through the Broome County Sheriff's Office website, you can search for level one offenders, their picture, zip code and other information.

Twenty-eight offenders in Broome County will no longer be registered by the end of the year.

"These are not people that we should allow just to roam around our schools and streets unannounced," said Binghamton City Councilman Conrad Taylor (D).

In August, local lawmakers called on representatives in Albany to amend Megan's Law -- keeping level ones on the registry for at least 30 years.

A bill proposing just that is still in its early stages and wasn't voted on during the last legislative session. It cannot be brought to the floor of either the State Senate or Assembly until the legislative session resumes on January 6, 2017.

Meaning, through the end of this year and into the next -- Level 1 offenders will continue to be removed from the list and have the same freedoms as an everyday citizen.

Under the current laws, level two and level three sex offenders are registered for life, with level two offenders able to petition the sentencing court for removal after 30 years.

Binghamton City Council and the Broome County Legislature have both passed resolutions in support of extending the statue for Level 1 offenders to 30 years.

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