O’Donnell to Head Subcommittee

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell on May 11, 2005 to head the Codes Committee’s recently formed Sub Committee for Criminal Procedure.

The Codes Committee oversees all legislative matters that involve a civil or criminal penalty or have civil or criminal implications. It handles matters that fall within the criminal justice budget and the public protection budget. Its new five-member Sub Committee is charged with reviewing existing criminal justice legislation and making recommendations to be considered by the full Codes Committee.

Changes in investigative technology and new knowledge are driving the review of current criminal procedure. For example, advances in technology have led states to review their reliance on fingerprint technology. Additionally, recent studies have indicated that eyewitness accounts may not be as reliable as previously thought. These developments have had an effect on the ways criminal procedure law is written and will have an impact on criminal justice in New York State for years to come.

Assemblymember O’Donnell has introduced new legislation to study the effectiveness of Megan’s Law and sex offender assessment and treatment programs. (Megan’s Law refers to the 1996 federal law, named for a 7-year old New Jersey girl brutally murdered by a paroled sex offender who had moved into her neighborhood, which set guidelines for states to require some type of public notification of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders after their release from prison. These laws typically require registration, with more active community notification for those assessed to be more severe risks for recidivism.) Under the O’Donnell-sponsored bill the State Division of Criminal Justice Services would work with outside academic institutions to evaluate the programs’ performance in apprehending sex offenders and in predicting and reducing repeat crimes by sex offenders.

"The most remarkable thing to me about the range of sex offender proposals that have been put forward recently is how little information exists about how effective any of them have been or may be in stopping sex crimes," said O’Donnell. "As we continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, it is incumbent on us, I believe, to at least make an attempt to find out if what we are doing is having any effect in making us safer. This bill will accomplish that goal," he said.