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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Sex Offender Registration (2014-MS-2)
We also released 15 letter reports to county sheriff’s offices in Broome [pdf], Cayuga [pdf], Oneida [pdf], Ontario [pdf], Saratoga [pdf], St. Lawrence [pdf], Steuben [pdf] and Warren [pdf] counties; city police departments in Buffalo [pdf], Mount Vernon [pdf], Ogdensburg [pdf], Rochester [pdf], Syracuse [pdf] and Utica [pdf]; and a county police department in Suffolk [pdf] County.


Released: September 17, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine if local law enforcement agencies (Departments) took action to help enforce the State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) for the period January 1, 2008 through January 22, 2014.

Background

The State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), effective January 1996, established a Sex Offender Registry within the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). SORA was enacted to assist local law enforcement agencies and to protect communities by requiring sex offenders to register with the State and by providing public information about certain sex offenders living in the community. Court-certified sex offenders must comply with DCJS registration requirements including address verification, notification of change of address, and Registry photograph updates. DCJS notifies local law enforcement agencies when offenders fail to comply with address verification, and notifies the offender and the agency when offenders are required to have their Registry photo updated. The State has over 37,000 registered sex offenders.

Key Findings

  • Ten Departments (Broome, Buffalo, Cayuga, Mount Vernon, Ontario, Rochester, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Steuben and Warren) did not always act on DCJS photograph notifications in a timely manner. No action was taken on 170 of the 322 notifications examined.
  • Five Departments (Mount Vernon, Rochester, Steuben, Suffolk and Syracuse) took no action on eight of 132 DCJS notifications regarding offender non-compliance with the annual address verification requirement.
  • Broome, Ontario and Saratoga consistently processed change-of-address forms, as required, for offenders incarcerated and later released from their county correctional facilities. However, Cayuga, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Steuben and Warren did not process the forms for 15 offenders who were admitted and for 23 offenders who were released.
  • Five Departments’ policies did not include provisions for all their SORA responsibilities.

Key Recommendations

Departments should:

  • Use all DCJS notifications and resources to manage the sex offender populations under their jurisdictions, and notify DCJS of the current status on each case.
  • Ensure that change-of-address forms are completed and processed when an offender is incarcerated and later released from a Department’s correctional facility.
  • Ensure that sex offender policies and procedures are complete and comprehensive, and that they are fully implemented.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236