Senate Passes Civil Confinement Legislation

Thomas P. Morahan

March 06, 2007

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities announced that the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (S3318) has been passed by the New York State Senate.

The bill establishes comprehensive reforms to enhance public safety by allowing the State to continue managing sex offenders upon the expiration of their criminal sentences, either by civilly confining the most dangerous recidivistic sex offenders, or by permitting strict and intensive parole supervision of offenders who pose a lesser risk of harm. Treatment is mandated during both criminal and civil confinement and during the period of strict supervision. It also creates a new crime of a "Sexually Motivated Felony," and provides for enhanced terms of post-release supervision for all persons who commit felony sex offenses.

"Sexual predators prey on the innocent --they are among the most dangerous criminals, and recidivism rates for these offenders are especially high," said Senator Morahan . Almost half will end up back in prison from a parole violation or for committing a new crime. This new legislation will save lives, protect our children and keep our communities safe while ensuring that these individuals will be housed and treated in separate and secure facilities."

Under the bill, sex offenders will be referred to a case review team to determine if the offender has a mental abnormality that will make them likely to be a repeat offender. If so, the case will go to the Attorney General to file a petition for confinement in the county of incarceration. If after a trial, a jury confirms the findings of the case review team, a judge will determine the most appropriate course of action, either confinement for the most dangerous offenders or a program of strict and intensive supervision for those who pose a lesser risk.

In addition, the legislation also does the following:

> Mandates treatment for all sex offenders, during incarceration and after their release;

> Increases periods of parole supervision for sex offenders;

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

The legislation was sent to the Assembly.