Sex offenders populateCentral New York. In Oneida Countyalone, there are 722 registered sex offenders. Herkimer County has 161 registered offenders and Otsego County has 92registered sex offenders. There aredifferent rules and restrictions facing each offender based on their case andlevel of registry.
Motelowner Linda Turner most likely never thought the David Motel, her way of makinga living, would also be the scene of her violent death. But on a cold November day, repeat sexoffender Robert Blainey raped and then strangled the 68 year old Utica woman todeath. It left a community stunned andasking the question: How could a childrapist and repeat offender ever be free enough to murder and innocentwoman?
It’s aquestion that vexes the people charged with keeping us safe from predators likeBlainey, who rape and murder with no apparent remorse. Even at the court case, Blainey said, “One ofus had to go and sure as hell wasn’t gonna be me.”
MarcoRicci is the Regional Director of the New York State Department of Correctionsand Community Supervision. Based inAlbany, his jurisdiction extends into Central New York. He says that the current system works, butnothing is perfect. “On occasion,” hesays, “we have people who are doing well, and then something happens.” Ricci said in cases like Blainey’s, there aresometimes absolutely no signs of an offender returning to his old criminal waysof life. He says, “I wish we had a wayof knowing who was going to be who. Ifwe knew that, we wouldn’t them out in the first place.”
Thepunishment varies on a case by case basis. He also says the reason Central New York has an unusually large amountof registered sex offenders is simple. “CentralNew York has a facility that contains a lot of sex offenders.” The reason why Central New York has more percapita than New York City? Ricci saysthat the Queens and Bronx don’t have prisons or confinements. The prisons are in Upstate New York,
Ricci says by law, the sex offender must register his orher address. So if the offender ishoused at the Oneida County Correctional Facility or Mohawk Valley PsychiatricCenter, that is their address. Withfour different prison facilities, it increases the registered offender’spopulation. Once an offender isreleased, it’s Ricci’s department that oversees the offender’s behavior andpublic safety. He mentions theirtriggers and says, “We do what we can do to make sure they don’t reoffend. Even if their sexual preference is still achild, as long as they can live safely in the community and they don’t reoffend.Ultimately, we don’t want them to come back to incarceration. We want them to be productive citizens andnot a burden because of supervision. Most want to succeed.”
But what about those offenders who fall short of successin our open society? Ricci says simply, “Theminute they can’t, public safety calls for a return to incarceration. We have a very small tolerance forre-offenders.” Legislation is in thework by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and State Senator Joe Griffo to toughoffender supervision and monitoring rules. That could lead to more work for Ricci and his team, but he welcomes achange. He says, “I think it’s a goodthing. Anything that keeps our communitysafe, I think that’s good legislation.”
Ricci says his team does its job as best as the currentlaw allows. It’s ultimately up to ourcommunity to stay safe from potential predators. Ricci ends saying, “It’s incumbent of all ofus to watch and be aware for our children and to be aware that they are out there. I assure you we will do everything to makesure that the offender is taken care of, and if they’re not, we will be thefirst to take them off the street.”