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Sex offender's re-arrest prompts bill for harsher sentences

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - Prompted by the re-arrest of a convicted sex offender whom police say called himself, "Harry Potter," after the children's book character, a NY State lawmaker from Herkimer County is proposing longer sentences for people who commit sex crimes against children.

According to Parents for Megan's Law, of released sex offenders who committed another sex crime, 40% did it within a year or less of being released from prison.

Senator James Seward (R) 51 wants to turn some misdemeanor crimes into felonies, and some D-class felonies into C-felonies. In some cases, sentences could be doubled. Wendi Bazan, Executive Director of the Herkimer County Child Advocacy Center, works with child victims and their families. Bazan said the proposed legislation, if enacted, would make a difference.

"We get more victims because they're let out on the streets," she said. "Their sentences aren't long enough and they re-offend so we find that the same suspects re-offend over and over and over again and that would cut down on victims."

There is currently a bill in the senate on this matter, but Seward acknowledges that the real challenge will be getting the support of the democrat-controlled assembly. A call to Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito has not yet been returned.

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