PLATTSBURGH — Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is looking to make campgrounds safer for children.
“Kids should be allowed to be kids, and campgrounds need to be safe sites,” she told the Press-Republican.
The Republican from Peru is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit registered sex offenders from entering or using campgrounds that offer overnight accommodations.
Duprey said the issue was brought to her attention last year when a sex offender moved into a permanent site at an area campground, which she declined to name.
The woman registered her address as the campground, as she was required to do by law.
The owner of the campground did not find out about her criminal past until a number of guests canceled reservations, giving her presence as the reason.
When the owner tried to have the woman ousted, there was nothing in the law to accommodate her removal.
The woman was arrested and removed after she allegedly approached a young child, Duprey said.
“There is nothing in the law that says they can’t be at campgrounds.”
Duprey said the nature of campgrounds, with their expansive areas where children often roam free, can give predators fertile hunting ground.
Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said the current sex-offender law targets schools, playgrounds and other sites where children gather but says nothing specifically about campgrounds.
“This is something that probably should have been looked into a long time ago,” Favro said.
“This law will provide for a safer environment for children and families. It’s common sense.”
Duprey’s bill is before the Assembly Committee on Corrections right now, and she is hoping to get it through to the full Assembly and eventually the Senate.
“We’ve got about 40 co-sponsors right now, and it’s bi-partisan, and hopefully it can gain some ground,” she said.
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