Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced Senate passage of civil commitment legislation. This legislation would give the state the ability to place a sexually violent predator who is still a threat to society in a secure state mental facility for the purpose of continued rehabilitation at the conclusion of their prison sentence.
"By making sure that criminals receive additional treatment and by removing them as a threat, we can greatly enhance the safety and the peace of mind of all New York residents," stated Senator Flanagan.
Under current law, sexually violent predators are released into the community when their prison sentence is finished without any consideration of the danger they pose to society.
The legislation passed by the Senate provides for needed treatment at secure facilities and simultaneously extends greater protection to the public by establishing procedures to civilly commit persons who have committed acts of sexual violence and are likely to commit more sex crimes. These procedures would include a jury trial and yearly reevaluation for those who are civilly committed under this proposed law.
The rate of repeat offenses by those who commit sexually violent offenses are extraordinarily high. According to a New York State Department of Correctional Services report, for the period from 1986 through 1995, approximately 49 percent of sex offenders who were released from New York prisons in 1986 were returned to prison for a violation of parole or for committing a new crime.
Some of these sexually violent predators have mental abnormalities that make them even more likely to continue committing acts of sexual violence. With existing programs in state correctional facilities unable to fully address this problem, many of these predators are eventually released without the benefit of effective treatment. This presents a danger to our communities that civil commitment would seek to eliminate.
Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have passed laws authorizing the civil commitment of sexually violent predators at the expiration of their criminal sentences: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the involuntary civil commitment of dangerous persons who are unable to control their behaviors and whose mental illnesses render them a grave risk to the public health and safety.
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