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NY: After 25 Years, It Is Past Time To Reform New York’s Sex Offender Risk Assessment System: Part I

[ – 1/5/21]

In this article, the author outlines the significant flaws of the sex offender risk assessment instrument. A second article to be published later will explain why these deficiencies are not adequately corrected by court departure determinations.

Convicted sex offenders under New York law must have their risk of reoffense assessed by courts under the Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA” or “Megan’s Law”) with courts determining whether offenders are at low, moderate or high risk to re-offend. The rankings not only determine the length and intrusiveness of sex offender registration and community notification, which often last for life, but vital collateral matters, like whether offenders may live within 1,000 feet of a school, receive Section 8 housing vouchers or live in public housing.

Courts are required to base their risk-level determinations on an offender’s scores on a Risk Assessment Instrument (the “RAI”) created by a state entity, the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders (the “Board”). The RAI provides a presumptive risk level which courts can then depart up or down from if there are factors the RAI doesn’t adequately consider. There is little evidence, however, that the RAI has any predictive validity

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The signup requires that you have some kind of professional email address – a regular gmail won’t work. Can you send us a copy or put something up? Thanks.

So those in NY who at their original SORA hearing, were ordered to register Level 1, should now be a level “zero” at the new, updated risk assessment hearing, after so many years offense free.

Despite it being more than a decade later, the Judge told my lawyer he wouldn’t consider anything until I went for treatment – even after being evaluated by a State Psychiatrist. No Judge will admit that asking for a downward departure is an exercise in futility if it has to be made on the basis of the evaluation itself; just living a normal life and not getting into trouble after your conviction doesn’t help. If you check the NY Courts’ opinions on Google Scholar, they all say the same thing: “the defendant brought information, but they don’t have evidence that would have changed the evaluation using the RAI all the way back when he or she was evaluated.” When then is the point of asking for a downward departure? Every day I live my life and stay away from trouble is more proof that I should be given a second chance. The law should “reward” people for good behavior.

After reviewing this piece i may just write another book as a follow-up.


It’s New York, that’s why we can’t read it. New York is of no consequence to the operator of this site

Thanks for the link! It may be a small gesture, but it really means alot to me when we look out for each other. Best wishes for safety and health for you and yours!

Whatever “risk assessment” tool they use is an exercise in futility. Nothing changes the fact that well over 90% of new sex crime in any given year is committed by those without priors. That alone should indicate a very small risk among registrants as a whole.

I would argue that for there to be continual registration, monitoring, punishment, civil commitment, “treatment” or whatever else that the state wants to impose after sentences are served, they should have to make a showing outside the crime of conviction that any given individual is likely to commit one of the <5% of sex crimes committed by registrants. Placing the burden of proof on the registrant is insane and unfair. Not to mention impossible, as a negative (that he is not a threat) cannot be proven and most judges are unlikely to credit such evidence, no matter how persuasive or whatever standard of proof applies

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x