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B.C. Development Center Closure Could Release Sex Offenders

There is the possibility that people who are currently in the locked down unit could end up in group home settings.
There is the possibility that people who are currently in the locked down unit could end up in group home settings.

Here's the crux of the issue: There are people housed at the Broome Developmental Center that are currently considered dangerous enough to be in a locked down unit. If the center is closed, their cases could soon be reviewed to see if they should be released into the community.

There are about a dozen registered offenders in the locked down unit at the BDC according to the New York State Department of Corrections. However, there are more residents in that unit that have actually committed sex crimes, but are not registered sex offenders.

"They're not registered sex offenders, because they actually haven't been convicted because of their mental capacity or development disability, so they don't have to register. There's a little problem with the law at this point in time. So, we're looking at that," said assemblyman Cliff Crouch. His office has received several calls from upset people.

"I believe that some of the individuals aren't appropriate to go out into a group home, some of them are violent, some are severe sex offenders and so I don't believe these people should be put into a group home setting. We've met with the Governor's office. We're discussing options."

Crouch says privacy laws need to be looked at when it comes to sex offenders who aren't labeled as such. He says police agencies and families should be aware of who is living around them.

State Senator Tom Libous has also met with the Governor's Office. His goal is to preserve the more than 700 jobs that are at the BDC, ensure that people who need help receive it, and make sure that dangerous people aren't released.

"We've been working with the Governor's people in trying to make sure that we can continue to provide quality care, but at the same time not put dangerous people into the community. Those are ongoing discussions. I have the support of Assemblywoman Lupardo, Assemblyman Crouch and we're going to continue to fight to achieve a positive goal there," said Libous.

The Office of People With Developmental Disabilities has said that people with a history of high risk behavior are reviewed by a team of highly trained clinicians before being recommended for community placement. The State also says that plans would be developed for the people that would include supervision. OPWDD also says it can request that residents deemed dangerous be kept under state care.

The slated closure of the BDC is part of an ongoing effort to de-institutionalize people and place them in community settings.

While there are about 70 people in the L.I.T., there are only about 40 regular residents still at the Broome Developmental Center. They are expected to be moved to group homes this year.

At one point in the 1970's there were more than 2,000 people at the BDC.
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