Senate Approves Civil Confinement

George Winner

March 06, 2007

Albany, N.Y.-- The New York State Senatehas approved legislation co-sponsored by State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) to keep sexually violent predators off the streets for longer periods of time through a process known as civil confinement.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 53 to 8. It begins to put in place an agreement announced last week by the Legislature and Governor Eliot Spitzer. It will become law once it’s approved by the Assembly and signed by the governor.

"Civil confinement will keep our communities and our families out of the reach of the worst of our sexual predators, and we need to enact it into law as quickly as possible," said Winner. "This action is long overdue in New York State."

The agreed-upon legislation mirrors civil confinement legislation Winner has co-sponsored in the Senate for the past two years. It will provide a comprehensive, streamlined framework for identifying, evaluating and civilly committing sexually violent predators. The initial screening of cases will be done by mental health professionals, who will decide whether the inmate has a mental abnormality that might cause a predisposition to commit future sex offenses. A final decision on this issue is entrusted to the unanimous determination of a jury after a trial. A judge will then decide the most appropriate form of management – either confinement for the highest-risk offenders, or strict and intensive supervision for those who pose a lesser risk.

Among other provisions, the new legislation will also:

> require mandatory treatment for all sex offenders – both during incarceration and after release;

> require longer periods of parole supervision for sex offenders;

> establish a new crime of "sexually motivated felony;" and

> create a new state Office of Sex Offender Management within the State Division of Criminal Justice Services to develop comprehensive policies and standards for the evaluation, treatment and management of sex offenders.