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She's got to be kidding, right?

State Rep. Francine Del Monte sent out a news release last week headlined "Keep habitual sex offenders off the streets and away from our children!" In it, she condemned the utter failure of the state's Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act, apparently hoping that no one in the newsrooms she sent it to would remember that she helped author the failed legislation.

What Francine lacks in personality, charm, character and good looks, she more than makes up for with chutzpah. She's hoping we'll all forget last summer's fiasco at the Midtown Inn, where her prior legislation led directly to the housing of as many as 25 high-risk repeat sexual predators within spitting distance of the Niagara Street Elementary School.

"Over and over we have seen predators who are prime candidates for civil confinement be released back into our communities," she said last week.


The loopholes contained in her original legislation were so big you could drive a truck through them, and even lousy attorneys did so with alarming regularity. Of 1,603 sexual predators whose sentences ended since the law was put into place, just 139 even had their cases reviewed.

At the time, the state Senate proposed turning one of New York's underutilized prisons into a home for those despicable deviants who prey on our children. State Sen. George Maziarz was a prime exponent of the approach, which would all but guarantee that incurable sex maniacs would never be free to destroy the lives of kids again.

But Francine, along with her mentor Shelly Silver and then-governor Eliot Spitzer -- who had his own sexual problems -- put the kibosh on the approach and passed a more lenient version of the bill.

"We ended up voting in favor of the watered-down version of the bill based on the logic that anything's better than nothing," Maziarz said later. "But nobody believed it would actually work."

It hasn't. And now Francine would like us all to forget that she sponsored the screwy thing, even as she hustles to patch up the loopholes using the very tools the state Senate proposed in the first place.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jaunary 12, 2010