1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. Mental Hygiene
  4. Title B: Mental Health Act
  5. Article 10: Sex Offenders Requiring Civil Commitment or Supervision


Section 10.01 Legislative findings

Mental Hygiene (MHY)

The legislature finds as follows:

  (a) That recidivistic sex offenders pose a danger to society that should be addressed through comprehensive programs of treatment and management. Civil and criminal processes have distinct but overlapping goals, and both should be part of an integrated approach that is based on evolving scientific understanding, flexible enough to respond to current needs of individual offenders, and sufficient to provide meaningful treatment and to protect the public.

  (b) That some sex offenders have mental abnormalities that predispose them to engage in repeated sex offenses. These offenders may require long-term specialized treatment modalities to address their risk to reoffend. They should receive such treatment while they are incarcerated as a result of the criminal process, and should continue to receive treatment when that incarceration comes to an end. In extreme cases, confinement of the most dangerous offenders will need to be extended by civil process in order to provide them such treatment and to protect the public from their recidivistic conduct.

  (c) That for other sex offenders, it can be effective and appropriate to provide treatment in a regimen of strict and intensive outpatient supervision. Accordingly, civil commitment should be only one element in a range of responses to the need for treatment of sex offenders. The goal of a comprehensive system should be to protect the public, reduce recidivism, and ensure offenders have access to proper treatment.

  (d) That some of the goals of civil commitment - protection of society, supervision of offenders, and management of their behavior - are appropriate goals of the criminal process as well. For some recidivistic sex offenders, appropriate criminal sentences, including long-term post-release supervision, may be the most appropriate way to achieve those goals.

  (e) That the system for responding to recidivistic sex offenders with civil measures must be designed for treatment and protection. It should be based on the most accurate scientific understanding available, including the use of current, validated risk assessment instruments. Ideally, effective risk assessment should begin to occur prior to sentencing in the criminal process, and it should guide the process of civil commitment.

  (f) That the system should offer meaningful forms of treatment to sex offenders in all criminal and civil phases, including during incarceration, civil commitment, and outpatient supervision.

  (g) That sex offenders in need of civil commitment are a different population from traditional mental health patients, who have different treatment needs and particular vulnerabilities. Accordingly, civil commitment of sex offenders should be implemented in ways that do not endanger, stigmatize, or divert needed treatment resources away from such traditional mental health patients.