August 30, 2011

Sex offender’s attorney argues ordinance

8-30-2011 New York:

NORTH TONAWANDA — An attorney representing a convicted sex offender who is suing the City of North Tonawanda and Niagara County to challenge an ordinance barring him from living within 1,320 feet of a school, playground or daycare center said the law is overly severe.

Kathy Manley, of Kindlon Shanks and Associates in Albany, said the ordinance exceeds the state residency restriction of 1,000 feet.

“It would be nice if the state enforced this, but that’s really not how it works,” she said. “This is about the fact that localities, counties and towns are not able to regulate sex offenders. It’s something that the state has to regulate because otherwise you have every town and county making harsher and harsher laws. It pushes them underground.”

Manley said she has overturned similar ordinances in Albany, Rensselaer and Washington counties, with one more pending in Saratoga County. She argues laws that overstep state restrictions simply push sex offenders from one locale to another, which can allow for them to go into hiding.

“It is possible, that’s what happened in Iowa,” she said. “They put away more people than they really needed to monitor. It basically banished people from the whole state. They ended up changing the law. It was way too harsh.”

Manley’s client, Dale L. Goff, is due to be released in January. He has been imprisoned on his most recent charge at the Gowanda Correctional Facility since November 2006. Goff also was convicted in 1992 of molesting two boys, ages six and 10.

“He’ll be monitored, registered and required to report every 90 days,” she said.

Manley said she could not get into specifics regarding where exactly Goff would like to live, though she did believe it would be with a relative.

“I don’t know if he could find anything else,” she said. “There’s somebody there he would have been approved to live with. This comes down to not wanting people to lose all their rights.”

Manley also challenges claims by North Tonawanda attorney Shawn Nickerson, who said sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism.

“There’s actually much lower rates for most sex offenders than for the average criminal,” she said. “I feel like if we start allowing some groups of people to lose their rights, others will follow. We’re protecting everybody’s rights.”

It will likely be several months before the lawsuit is brought to court, Manley said. ..Source.. by Mike Regan Niagara Gazette

No comments: