The Assembly Sponsor likewise stated in a letter to the Governor that the proposed statute applied to “those offenders under supervision or in prison.” That Assembly Sponsor explained that the rationale for applying SORA retroactively was that “sweeping so narrowly as to only reach offenders from enactment forward leaves the majority of sexual offenders cloaked in anonymity” and he noted the low rehabilitation and high recidivism rates for sex offenders . In addition, the budget report with respect to SORA explains that it creates a registry requirement for convicted sex offenders presently on probation or parole and for those sex offenders who will be released from correctional facilities in the future.
SORA is a remedial statute and it therefore must be liberally construed to effect or carry out the reforms intended and to promote justice. A liberal construction is one that is in the interest of those whose rights are to be protected, and if a case is within the beneficial intention of a remedial act it is deemed within the criminal statute, though actually it is not within the letter of the law.
SORA’s objective is to protect communities by notifying them of the presence of individuals who may present a danger and enhancing law enforcement authorities’ ability to fight sex. Individuals such as petitioner who were serving a sentence or on parole or probation in another state at the time of SORA’s implementation are clearly no less dangerous than similarly situated individuals in New York.
Further, the court notes that the statutory construction urged by petitioner and adopted by the court would lead to objectionable and unreasonable consequences. Pursuant to petitioner’s restrictive interpretation of SORA, an out-of-state sex offender on probation at the time of the statute’s implementation who later moves to New York would be excluded from the notification and registration requirements thereof, while a sex offender on probation in New York at the same time would be subject to such requirements. This interpretation could have the unintended and undesirable effect of encouraging sex offenders convicted in other states to evade the registration requirements of those states by relocating to New York.
The trail court notes that states have a legitimate interest in requiring robbery offenders who commit registrable offenses in other jurisdictions to register in their new state of residence. Otherwise, an offender could avoid sex offender registration requirements simply by moving his or her state of residence, thereby frustrating the purpose behind sex offender registration laws as in People v. McGarghan.
Lastly, contrary to petitioner’s contention, requiring him to register as a sex offender pursuant to Correction Law § 168–k would not result in disparate treatment on the basis of residency. Rather, such an interpretation would subject petitioner to the same registration and notification requirements applicable to a similarly situated individual who was on probation for burglary in New York at the time of SORA’s implementation.
Accordingly, the court concludes that the judgment should be reversed and the petition dismissed.