Valhalla, NY – This past May, Governor Andrew Cuomo granted conditional pardons to more than 24,000 criminals, including a number of dangerous level 3 sexual offenders. The controversial move allows them to vote in today’s election primaries along with other ruthless felons like Herman Bell, who ambushed and murdered two police officers in 1971 and was paroled in April. Worried that a deviant level 3 sexual offender registered to vote at the Hawthorne Elementary School would show up to vote there, concerned parents inundated Senator Murphy’s office with calls looking for answers.
Standing in the lobby of the Mt. Pleasant Police Station on September 12th, Senator Murphy, supported by a group of elected officials, members of law enforcement and anxious parents, offered answers and shared his own concerns.
“New York State has left our local schools, law enforcement and municipalities in the dark,” said Senator Murphy. “There has been zero communication from any state agencies, leaving school officials, local police and local government grappling with how to handle a potentially dangerous situation. We have a level 3 offender who raped a five-year-old, being allowed to vote in an elementary school. Yes, a parole officer has to be with a sex offender, but there too many unanswered questions. Is he meeting the parole officer there? Is he waiting at the school? Does the parole officer escort him off school property? How do we know he won’t return? This current situation is unacceptable.”
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne added, “This was done by executive order and without any consent or debate by the legislature. It’s insane to think we would allow a violent sexual predator to simply walk into one of our schools in the presence of children. The lack of communication has put teachers, children and staff at schools in jeopardy.”
“Public safety has always been our top priority,” said Mt. Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi. “No one was notified. It would have made more sense to bring people together to discuss the Governor’s intentions rather than allowing him to issue conditional pardons that will allow sex offenders access to children.”
Westchester County Board of Elections Commissioner Douglas Colety commented, “We are concerned that this Governor is more interested in protecting felons than our children. We have put together a legislative agenda package requesting that all schools be closed on Election Day. This legislation will help keep children safe from predators.”
“Over two hundred felons that were set free have already had their paroles revoked,” noted Putnam County Board of Elections Commissioner Anthony Scannapieco. “This has been a poorly planned move from the beginning, and it will only get worse at the expense of innocent children and their families.”
Lakeland School Superintendent George Stone said, “We’ve been saying for quite some time that public gatherings and school children don’t mix. We’re dealing with people who have shown they don’t follow by the rules. A sex offender has to ask and be granted permission to come into one of our schools. So far, no one has asked.”
“We’re going to be proactive and make sure this danger is dealt with properly,” said Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva. “We’re going to station officers in each school, including between the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. when registered sex offenders have been directed to vote.”
“We want to make sure our polling places and our children are safe,” Senator Murphy concluded. “If we had this debate in the legislation in the first place, we wouldn’t be standing here now.”
Also standing in support with Senator Murphy were Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble and Mt. Pleasant Town Councilman Anthony Amiano.