Senator Robach Announces Agreement On Civil Commitment Of Sex Offenders

Joseph E. Robach

March 09, 2007

Senate Joseph Robach announced an agreement on legislation that will help protect New Yorkers against repeat sex offenders. The legislation authorizes a new program of civil commitment of individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes, served their prison terms and yet remain a clear threat to commit additional sex crimes.

"This legislation will save lives, protect our children and keep our communities safe by making sure dangerous sexual predators are kept off our streets and out of our neighborhoods. It also provides for the treatment they so desperately need," stated Senator Robach. "It is our responsibility to protect our citizens, and this legislation will ensure that all New Yorkers, particularly the most vulnerable - our children, are protected from sexual offenders that intend to cause them harm."

Under the legislation, civil commitment procedures will be streamlined. The initial screening of cases will be done by mental health professionals, who will decide whether the inmate has a mental abnormality that might predispose them to commit sex offenses in the future. A final decision on this issue is entrusted to the unanimous determination of a jury after a trial. A judge will then determine 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.

In addition to establishing the new civil commitment program, the new legislation provides for the following:

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

> Longer periods of parole supervision for sex offenders;

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

> Creation of a new Office of Sex Offender Management in the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which will develop comprehensive policies and standards for the evaluation, treatment and management of sex offenders