While a group of parents are up in arms over a homeless shelter housing sex offenders near a middle school in Queens, New Yorkers may be surprised to know just how many sex offenders are living among them.
The Skyway Shelter in South Ozone Park is home to approximately 18 sex offenders under the watch of Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (formerly Department of Parole), according to DOCCS Director of Public Information Peter Cutler.
Debbie Capuano, who has a son in sixth grade at P.S. 124, says the shelter is just barely over the required 1,000 feet away from the school.
Capuano says she learned of the presence of the sex offenders from the school principal, who was notified by the 106th Precinct.
“We had a meeting with her and with the 106 and they told us that there were more sex offenders than we thought, and they were level 2s and 3s,” Capuano reported, referring to offenders’ “risk level” category of repeating their crimes.
Sex offenders who are “undomiciled,” meaning they do not have a place to live when they are released, will be placed in housing by local Department of Social Services personnel in whatever community they’re moving into, Cutler says. The Skyway Shelter in South Ozone Park is an example of such a facility, he said.
But the state is not required to get approval from a community before placing a sex offender there, as South Ozone Park parents like Capuano were furious to learn. Information about sex offenders is made available to local law enforcement, who may then notify neighbors at their discretion, according to Janine Kava at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“We understand that they have a right to live somewhere, but like my girlfriend said, it’s like putting candy in front of a kid,”?Capuano said.
Sex offenders are classified as Level 1, 2, or 3 prior to their release from prison.
Level 2 and 3 sex offenders, as they are classified by the state, are those most likely to repeat their crimes.
The risk level dictates how long a person must remain registered as a sex offender, and how much and what kind of information can be given in community notifications.
Level 1 offenders are, by law, not listed in the registry maintained on the Department of Criminal Justice Services website. Level 2 and 3 are listed, including their exact addresses and information on where they go to school or their employer.
Information on their conviction, the type of victim they are most likely to target, and the methodology of their crime are also available to the public.