Proposed laws aim to keep better tabs on sex offenders

Photo Credit: Jim Kenyon

Senator Joe Griffo, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and law enforcement announced a three-part legislation plan to correct conditions they say let serial rapist Robert Blainey walk the streets.

The bills address conditional release of sexual predators, civil confinement, public notification, and surveillance and tracking of rapists.

Blainey, a convicted serial rapist, was released on parole after serving the required two-thirds of his prison sentence.

45-year-old Blainey was a level three sex offender, convicted of raping a young girl in 1984. Four years later, while he was on parole, he was convicted of raping two women. In 2011, a few weeks after he skipped out on his parole, 68-year-old Linda Turner was found murdered at the Davis Motel in Utica, which she owned. Blainey was eventually caught in Pennsylvania in Turner's car and was later charged with her murder.

The most egregious aspect of this situation is that you have an individual saying he TMs dangerous, and the parole board saying we TMre not going to let you go. But, under existing policies, they allow it to happen, said Griffo.

The first responsibility of government is to protect the people by protecting innocent people from those who would do them harm, said Brindisi in a statement. The Blainey case showed very tragically that there are some terrible holes in the system that require action. I know there is always concern for the rights of everyone. In this case, my greatest concern is for the right of an innocent person to be safe from being preyed upon by a criminal. Nothing can fix the damage that was done, but we can and must acknowledge the system TMs flaws and act to remedy them.

Both legislators agree that the process of civil confinement, which deals with the confinement of sex offenders upon expiration of their sentences, needs overhauling.

The process for making decisions is flawed, and it is done without strong input from a community such as ours, said Griffo.

Putting people of the street who still posed a risk is wrong, we need to tighten up the system, added Brindisi.

The legislation addresses existing rules regarding conditional release, lack of current photographs of parolees, and civil confinement with five pieces of legislation.

The first piece of legislation requires a discharge plan for the sex offender which includes the use of electronic tracking device for a period of time to be determined by the court.

The second piece requires sex offenders who fail to register in a timely manner to wear an electronic tracking device.

Blainey was not required to wear an electronic GPS device during his parole time, and after skipping out on bail, had Utica police concerned on Halloween night with the rapist on the loose.

The third piece requires parole interviews to be reviewed by the State Office of Mental Health and Civil Commitment review panel.

The fourth piece requires high level sex offenders to provide a new photo every 90 days.

When Blainey was arrested following the murder of a hotel owner in Utica, he looked much different than the photo authorities had on file of him. The photo on file was a picture of a bald man in glasses, but when he was arrested, Blainey had long hair, a beard, and no glasses.

The fifth first piece of legislation authorizes the parole board to require felony offenders to serve the maximum prison term if their release would pose an imminent threat to society.

Read the full press release with details on the legislation.