In light of a recent spate of sexual assaults across the city, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn held a press conference today to unveil a plan to toughen penalties for sexual predators. "We're not going to yield one piece of parkland, not one blade of grass, not one street corner in the city of New York to sexual predators," declared Quinn, who, after last month's rape of a 73-year-old in Central Park and a 21-year-old in Hudson River Park, also organized a series of self-defense training classes around the city.

Quinn was joined by Council Members Jessica Ferreras, Jessica Lappin and Peter Vallone in addition to State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and representatives from advocacy groups. They laid out a five-point plan intended to reform state legislature and close gaping legal loopholes pertaining to sex offenders, as well as to provide better funding for city programs aiding victims of sexual assault.

Quinn's first proposal calls for an increase in the in-person appearance requirements for moderate threat, or Level 2, sex offenders. Currently, offenders given a Level 2 designation by a judge are only required to be photographed by law enforcement officials every three years, while high threat Level 3 offenders are photographed once year. Under Quinn's proposal, Level 2 offenders would also be required to appear before law enforcement officials every year.

Quinn sought to close a repeat sex offender loophole limiting such prosecution to a ten year time frame, making it easier for criminals who serve long jail sentences to avoid repeat offender punishment if they commit more sex crimes once released. Quinn's plan calls for an extension of that time frame. "It's crazy if you think about it," she told reporters. "If you're in jail for longer than 10 years because you committed such a heinous sex crime that you got more than 10 years, you get out of jail, and if on the 13th year or the day you get out of jail you commit a sex crime, you're not a repeat sex offender because we had to send you for jail for so long because you committed such a terrible crime."

The Council also called for an increase in penalties against multiple acts of public lewdness. Though Council Member Vallone spearheaded legislation in 2007 that kicked serial acts of public lewdness up to a class A misdemeanor from class B, there are no penalties for repeat offenders statewide. (Vallone pointed out that "non-forcible" public acts like subway masturbation are not felony crimes.) "These acts contribute to a culture that can ultimately lead to assault and more serious crimes," Quinn said. Her fourth proposal was to secure dedicated funding for the city's Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) programming. SART, which costs $1.27 million to operate, provides 24/7 forensic and counseling services to victims of assault.

Finally, Quinn's fifth proposal called for state judges to slap sex offenders with maximum penalties. "By cracking down on sex offenders, we continue on our strong and united response to sexual attacks, and our strong and united commitment to stand with those who have been victims of sexual attacks as they move forward in their struggle to become survivors," Quinn said. "Our goal is to make sure we're the state with the most comprehensive, toughest, most effective laws and most supportive services on the books as it relates to sexual assault."