Golden Joins Senate Passage Of Civil Commitment Legislation

Martin J. Golden

February 05, 2007

Brooklyn- State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) joined the the New York State Senate last week in passing legislation, sponsored by Senator Dale Volker (R-C-I, Depew), that would provide for the civil commitment of sexually violent predators at a secure treatment facility after they’ve completed their prison sentence in order to protect the public from criminals likely to commit repeated acts of sexual violence.

"Almost half of the people who commit sexually violent offenses and are released from prison are returned to prison, either for a violation of their parole or for committing a new crime," said Senator Marty Golden. "The public needs to be protected from these dangerous sexual predators, and at the same time, these offenders desperately need to get sufficient treatment."

"The Senate has repeatedly passed this legislation and Governor Spitzer has also voiced his support for civil commitment; the roadblock has been the Assembly," continued Senator Golden. "I urge the Assembly to join us in passing this bill to ensure the safety and well-being of all innocent New Yorkers."

In order to protect the public and provide treatment to dangerous offenders, at least sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have passed laws authorizing the civil
commitment of sexually violent predators at the end of their criminal sentences. These states include: 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 health and safety of the public.

Recidivism rates for persons who commit sexually violent offenses are extraordinarily high. According to a report from the New York State Department of Correctional Services, 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. However, the existing programs in state correctional facilities are insufficient to address this problem. As a result, these predators are eventually released into the community without the benefit of treatment or care designed to address their unique treatment needs.

The Senate bill provides for such 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.