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Officials Announce Bills To Stop Release Of Dangerous Parolees

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - After the murder of a North Utica woman–allegedly by the hands of convicted sex-offender Robert Blainey–local officials say they’re planning to introduce a legislative package to change the process that led to the release of the suspect. Senator Joseph Griffo and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, flanked by local law enforcement officials, say the 5 bills they’re constructing, will address the state’s Conditional Release Program, Current Parolee Pictures, and the Civil Confinement Process.

Brindisi says the issues surrounding Blainey’s release are a stark reminder that more needs to be done to protect the community from dangerous parolees. “When I read in the paper that Mr. Blainey had outright told the Parole Board that he was a danger to society–I just couldn’t believe it–how could he have been passed over for Civil Confinement after making that statement? It just didn’t make sense. That’s why we drafted legislation to make sure transcripts are made of parole hearings and those records are filed along with other information, that is reviewed when decisions are made pertaining to the release of sexual offenders. One has to wonder if Mr. Blainey’s full record had been reviewed when he was released,” Brindisi said.

Saying the time to use “common sense for the common good” is now, Griffo added that the bills, if passed, would also give law enforcement officials an additional tool to stop potentially dangerous parolee’s from re-offending. “We need to do what we can legislatively to provide them the resources in order to allow them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities,” Griffo said. The senator goes on to explain that the bills will specifically address the program that paved the way for Blainey’s release after serving only two-third’s of his sentence, give parole officers the authority to update a parolee’s picture every 90 days, and allow authorities to use transcripts of parole hearings to determine whether an inmate qualifies for the Civil Confinement Program.

YWCA Mohawk Valley, Non-Residential Crisis Services Director, Rosemary Vennero, says their has been an increase in phone calls to the groups crisis hot-line immediately following Blainey’s release and subsequent fugitive status. She said, “I think along with not only with Mr. Blainey missing, but we’re seeing an increase in phone calls also because of Penn State and SU.” Vennero goes on to say that the YWCA is also hearing from victims who have never disclosed abuse before because of the high-profile media cases. She said, “We’ve heard from victims that said, ‘I’ve never talked about this before but now I need to talk, what’s happening, what I read in the newspaper and what I’m hearing on television is bringing up my victimization and I need assistance.’” Vennero reminds that the YWCA maintains a 24-hour confidential hot-line, (315-797-7740) to assist those in need.

The bills as outlined by the lawmakers are as follows:

Senate 1199 (Griffo) / Assemblyman Brindisi to sponsor – changes the law to provide that discharge of a offender from confinement or strict and intensive supervision by the court to include a discharge plan that ensures the offender is discharged to the community of their residence prior to conviction or commitment and shall include the use of electronic monitoring for a period to be determined by the court.

Senate 6073 (Griffo) / Assembly 1115 – will require sex offenders who fail to register in a timely manner or verify their registration requirements under New York State’s Sex Offender Registration Act to wear GPS transmitting devices.

New legislation (Griffo / Brindisi to sponsor) – would require all parole interviews with sex offenders to be reviewed by a State Office of Mental Health civil commitment review panel.

New legislation (Griffo / Brindisi to sponsor) – to require that high-level sex offenders provide a current photo on file every 90 days.

New legislation (Griffo / Brindisi to sponsor) – would authorize the Parole Board to require a felony sex offender to serve their maximum term, if their release would pose an imminent threat to society.

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