Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon) 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 Assemblyman Oaks and the minority conference, would allow the court system to keep 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 Oaks, civil confinement legislation has been repeatedly passed in the state Senate with bipartisan support in each of the past several years, but a similar measure has been blocked in committee by the Assembly majority for the past five years. Gov. George Pataki said he would sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
"If calling a special legislative session is needed to pass this vital piece of legislation, then I am all for it," Oaks said. "Civil confinement needs to be passed, and I urge Speaker Sheldon Silver and the majority-led Assembly to take this legislation seriously and do what’s right to protect women and children in New York."
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, Oaks 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).
Oaks requests that supporters of civil confinement and a stronger Megan’s Law sign a petition to show their support. Residents can get a copy of the petition by calling his office at (315) 946-5166.