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Vitale-Madden Bill To Give Sex Offender Info To Dyfs Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Fred H. Madden which would provide the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) access to the State’s sex offender database was unanimously approved by the Assembly today, receiving final legislative approval.

“DYFS must stand as a shield to protect our kids from all dangers, including those posed by sexual predators,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “To be truly effective in that regard, New Jersey has to provide the agency with the tools it needs to get the job done. By opening up sex offender information to DYFS caseworkers, we can ensure that New Jersey’s children receive the best protection possible from the world’s dangers.”

“Megan’s Law has been an effective tool to keep parents informed of the dangerous individuals living next door,” said Senator Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden. “In its ten years of existence, the sex offender database created by Megan’s Law has constantly evolved to meet the needs of today’s world. This measure will allow DYFS to share resources with the State’s law enforcement community to protect those kids at greatest risk of sexual abuse.”

The bill, S-1248, would allow DYFS to access the State’s sex offender database established under Megan’s Law for use in carrying out the agency’s responsibilities. Under current law, only law enforcement groups can access the Megan’s Law sexual offender database. The sponsors contend that Megan’s Law access will allow DYFS to take advantage of the State’s resources in classifying and identifying sex offenders in order to better protect children from potential future attacks.

“This bill tears down the bureaucratic walls that have kept our State’s child protection agency in the dark when it comes to sex offenders,” said Senator Madden. “Without access to all the information it needs to be effective, DYFS has been hindered from providing a complete safety net for those kids in need. Now, with greater tools at their disposal, DYFS will have the means to truly keep kids safe.”

“DYFS needs to be able to respond to all threats to our children’s safety,” said Senator Vitale. “The scars from sexual abuse can last a lifetime, and as we saw in the case of Megan Kanka, rape and sexual assault can lead to mutilation and murder. The promise of a child’s life should never be snuffed out because the relevant State protection agency didn’t have all the facts, and DYFS needs to adopt a comprehensive approach to protect kids.”

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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