NEW YORK (AP) — A Long Island county that includes the Hamptons is within its rights to visit the homes of sex offenders to verify addresses, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, finding Suffolk County did not violate the rights of a registered sex offender who was visited twice.
The anonymous offender sued in 2015, alleging that the visits carried out by the private nonprofit organization Parents for Megan’s Law — under contract with Suffolk County — constituted unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment.
The appeals ruling upheld a lower-court judge who said the visits were reasonable because their primary purpose was to verify a registered sex offender’s address.
“In sum, the program advances the government’s substantial interest in reducing sex offender recidivism by improving the accuracy of the registry,” the 2nd Circuit said.
Erin Beth Harrist, senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the ruling “does nothing to further safety.”
“Everyone should have the right to be protected from unreasonable and suspicion-less searches, especially when they are carried out at their front doors by people who are not law enforcement, Harrist said.
The 2nd Circuit said Parents for Megan’s Law conducted thousands of home verification visits and referred hundreds of leads for failure to register to the Suffolk County Police Department in the first three years of the program.
Despite that, the police arrested only 19 people based on the tips, the appeals court said.
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