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Playing Pokémon GO Will Be a Parole Violation for Sex Offenders, Cuomo Says

By Ben Fractenberg | August 1, 2016 3:14pm
 Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the state DOC to keep registered sex offenders from playing Pokemon GO.
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the state DOC to keep registered sex offenders from playing Pokemon GO.
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Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

MIDTOWN — Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday directed the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to add Pokémon GO to the list of banned activities that are considered a parole violation for registered sex offenders — following an investigation showing the game had placed characters near some offenders’ homes.

DOCCS, which oversees parolees, will impose a new condition that bars registered sex offenders under community supervision from downloading or playing the game, according to the governor's office. County probation officers will also be notified of the new policy. 

Under current rules, consequences for parole violations range from fines to extending probation time to a return to jail.

In addition, the agency will provide “up-to-date information” on registered sex offenders to game maker Niantic, Inc. Cuomo also sent a letter to the game developers asking them to prevent people in the state database from downloading the app.

“The State has taken action to prohibit sex offenders from using this game, but we need your assistance to make certain that sex offenders will not continue to use Pokémon GO by technologically barring their use,” Cuomo wrote in a letter dated Aug. 1. “Working together, we can ensure that this danger today does not escalate into a tragedy tomorrow.”

There are currently about 3,000 level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders currently on parole in the state.

State Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino released a report on Friday that said investigators caught 57 Pokémon characters directly in front of the homes of sex offenders.

They also found 59 Pokéstops or PokéGyms throughout the city within a half-block radius of registered offenders.

Klein said in a statement that they found a “disturbing correlation between high level sex offenders' residences and in-game objectives” and that they would work on additional measures to protect children.

“While this directive is a good first step, there's still more work to be done legislatively to protect children who use this technology and I will continue to monitor this situation,” the senator said in a statement.

Niantic and the state DOC did not return an immediate request for comment.