The New York Police Department allowed wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to skip dozens of court-mandated check-ins with law enforcement for more than eight years before he was arrested and charged with the sex trafficking of minors, the Washington Post reported earlier this year. During roughly that same period, cops in New York state made at least 7,061 arrests for similar violations of the state’s complicated sex offender registration law, according to data obtained by HuffPost.
Several of those arrests include people who committed minor violations, like submitting paperwork days late, or who struggled to keep up with reporting requirements because they were living in homeless shelters or on the street, defence lawyers said.
Epstein’s ability to evade punishment for the same behaviour that has resulted in felony convictions and imprisonment for less wealthy New Yorkers is a stark example of selective enforcement within the criminal justice system. The registration laws can make it difficult for convicted sex offenders who are not wealthy like Epstein to keep a job and find a place to live. Being unemployed and homeless makes it much harder to comply with paperwork and reporting requirements. Yet it was Epstein, not those less-wealthy offenders, who was granted an exception to the rules.
New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, which took effect in 1996, places layers of burdensome reporting requirements on people who have been convicted of sex crimes. The law divides people into three “risk” categories: those in the level one category typically have to register as sex offenders for 20 years; level two and three offenders have to register for life.
Registered sex offenders have to report where they live every year. When they move, they have to provide their new address in writing within 10 days of the move. They have to get their picture taken by law enforcement every 1-3 years, depending on their risk categorisation. They have to provide written information about their internet service providers, online screen names and email accounts. If they enrol or work at a higher education institution, they have to report that too. Level three offenders, like Epstein, are required to verify their addresses to local law enforcement every 90 days. – READ MORE