State lawmakers look to prevent sex offenders from being treated at certain psych centers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- State lawmakers are looking at new restrictions for sex offenders.

The Senate passed a bill this week to prevent sex offenders from living in group homes run by the Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Another Senate bill was passed last week that would prevent sex offenders from getting treatment at certain psychiatric centers.

Both bills are now waiting for approval by the Assembly.

Allison Scanlon and David Chudy with the group, Save Our Children’s Psychiatric Center, told us they welcome any bill that would keep kids safe.

Scanlon’s son received treatment at the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca for about three and a half years.

“When that door clicks and shuts behind you, you can’t just turn around and open that door and get to your child,” said Scanlon. “You have to trust that those people and that facility are going to take the best care of your child.”

Scanlon told News 4 she had complete trust in the West Seneca facility. Her son was discharged about eight years ago after he was treated for four disabilities, he now has a job and is learning to drive.

Governor Cuomo is moving forward with plans to relocate the children’s facility to the adult Buffalo Psychiatric Center on Forest Ave.

Scanlon is worried the children will be exposed to adults and will lose quality of care.

In response to safety concerns, State Senator Rob Ortt told News 4 he proposed a bill to prevent sex offenders from getting inpatient or outpatient treatment at the same facility or location as a children’s psychiatric facility.

“That needs to be in place,” said Scanlon.

The Office of Mental Health says in its “frequently asked questions” section that children will be in a separate facility. It goes on to say, “By the time the Children’s Inpatient facility is completed at Buffalo Psychiatric Center, there will be no sex offenders residing on the BPC campus.”

“We don’t frankly trust the Commissioner or the Governor in this regard because if they really had the kids’ best interests, they would not be forcing them to move there,” said Chudy.

Lawmakers tell us they wanted to be sure no sex offenders would live at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The bill passed the senate 60 to zero. It was co-sponsored by Senator Patrick Gallivan.

“What it really has to do with is help keep our community safe and help keep vulnerable people safe,” said Gallivan.

 

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