Assemblyman Bill Reilich (R,C,I-Greece) today said he favors convening a special legislative session this year to consider and vote on civil confinement legislation that would allow for institutionalizing high-risk sex offenders after their prison sentences end.
Civil confinement, a practice long endorsed by the Assembly minority conference, would allow judges to order the worst sex offenders held in secure mental health facilities beyond their prison release dates if, upon evaluation, there is significant reason to believe they may strike again. Under current law, sexually violent predators are free to rejoin society after serving their sentences despite the strong possibility they will offend again.
This year’s legislative session ended in late June.
According to Reilich, civil confinement legislation has been passed in the state Senate in each of the past several years, but a similar measure has been repeatedly blocked in committee by the Assembly majority for the past five years.
"I would support the governor if he called a special legislative session to pass this critical piece of legislation," Reilich said. "Civil confinement is important and needs to be passed immediately. Too many women and children are being abused by repeat offenders, and this cycle must stop."
Reilich stated he and his Assembly minority colleagues also endorse a stronger Megan’s Law in New York with proposals to restrict sex offenders’ access to schools, monitor their movements through use of Global Positioning System satellite technology, provide more information about sexual predators to communities and require lifetime registration of offenders on the state Sex Offender Registry.
Reilich noted numerous localities, in the absence of stronger statewide laws to further protect children from repeat sex offenders, are considering or have established more stringent regulations to keep track of convicted predators.
The Assembly minority has promoted a civil confinement law since 1993, and a similar bill has repeatedly passed the state Senate with bipartisan support (the vote was 58-2 this year). Gov. George Pataki said he would sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of civil confinement. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have civil confinement laws.
Along with civil confinement, Reilich and his Assembly minority colleagues also propose the following measures to strengthen Megan’s Law:
- Prevent convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or school grounds (A.1654)
- Expand information available about sex offenders on the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Web site to include information on all registered offenders (A.1701)
- Require law enforcement authorities to release information on Level 2 and 3 sex offenders – those at the highest risk of committing additional crimes – to vulnerable populations in the community (A.1654).
Reilich requests supporters of civil confinement and a stronger Megan’s Law call Speaker Silver’s office at (518) 455-3791; Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, chair of the Assembly Codes Committee, at (518) 455-4477; and Assemblyman Peter Rivera, chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, at (518) 455-5102, and urge them to pass the legislation.