Hope Springs Eternal – The Assembly Majority Succumbs To Pressure To Pass Civil Confinement Measure
Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) today announced that, after repeatedly failing to act on the Assembly minority-sponsored legislation that would keep the most dangerous sex offenders behind bars, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has finally succumbed to public demand for stricter sentences for convicted sexual predators by proposing bills that include a civil confinement policy.
“It is time to act swiftly to vote on comprehensive legislation to protect New York state’s children from dangerous sexual predators,” said Kolb.
Assembly minority members began introducing civil confinement legislation in 1993, but Assembly majority members have each year blocked the bill from coming to the floor for debate and a vote. The proposed Assembly majority legislation earmarked for the upcoming 2006 legislative session uses the term “civil commitment” rather than civil confinement.
Assembly minority conference members during 2005 collected more than 15,000 signatures as part of a grass-roots petition drive demanding that the Assembly majority stop stalling and start passing legislation to further protect New Yorkers from dangerous sexual predators. The legislation includes civil confinement and measures to strengthen Megan's Law.
Kolb noted, “This should be a priority in January to reconcile bills in both houses of the state Legislature and pass a meaningful civil confinement measure.”
Civil confinement would allow the courts to order the worst of convicted sex offenders –classified as Level 3 predators – held in secure mental-health facilities beyond their prison release dates if, upon extensive evaluation and unanimous jury verdicts, it is determined they could strike again. Under current law, sexually violent predators are released into communities once their sentences are finished despite the strong possibility they will offend again.
In the absence of stronger statewide laws to protect children from convicted sex offenders, numerous localities have taken matters into their own hands. Recently, media across New York have been inundated with stories of local governments looking for new ways to protect citizens from sex offenders who have been released into their communities.
Binghamton city officials recently enacted a law preventing sex offenders from living or being within a quarter-mile of a school, daycare center, playground or park. In Westchester County, tracking devices are being used to monitor freed sex offenders’ movements. In the Capital Region, Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties are eyeing local legislation to help protect residents from sex offenders.
“I am hopeful the Assembly majority is serious about moving quickly on this issue,” Kolb concluded.
The Assembly minority legislation that I have co-sponsored includes the following measures to enhance protections for women and children:
- Prohibit convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or school grounds. (A.1654)
- Civil confinement of sexually violent predators in secure mental-health facilities beyond their prison release dates if, upon extensive evaluation and a unanimous jury verdict, it is determined they could strike again when freed. (A.2693)
- Require the most dangerous sex offenders to wear electronic devices linked to Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to monitor their movements. (A.8158)
- Expand the 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 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)