Assembly Passes Bill to Keep Dangerous Sexual Predators Behind Bars

Lavine successfully argues for passage during spirited debate
March 22, 2007

Governor Spitzer signs the civil commitment legislation into effect at the State Capitol on March 14, 2007. Appearing on the left is the family of Connie Russo who was killed by a just released level 3 sexual offender in White Plains in June of 2005. Assemblymember Lavine is pictured on the right.

Arguing in favor of passage of a bill that will confine dangerous sexual predators who have completed their jail sentences, Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-North Shore) stated from the floor of the New York State Assembly that those who opposed the bill were wrong and that “The price of perfection is human tragedy and pain and suffering for the innocent. . . Our first responsibility is to protect our citizens.”

New York’s most dangerous sexual predators will be kept off the streets even after they finish their prison terms under this tough new legislation.

“The Assembly’s passage of this historic civil commitment legislation means major reforms to our criminal justice system and greater protection for our families from these violent predators,” said Lavine.

The legislation calls for the state Attorney General to decide when to seek civil commitment of individuals determined to be dangerous by a state committee of mental health professionals. If confinement is not ordered, the sex offender will be monitored under strict and intensive supervision and treatment (A.6162). Other highlights:

  • there will be required treatment to reduce recidivism by prisoners and for the civilly confined;
  • those housed in mental health facilities will be kept separate from vulnerable mental health patients; and
  • civil confinement must be reviewed annually by the courts.

Assemblymember Lavine said the legislation also toughens penalties for convicted sex offenders by:

  • eliminating the option of parole for Article 130 felony sex offenses;
  • providing long-term post-release supervision for those convicted of sex offense felonies;
  • moving five existing crimes into the “violent crime” category, including second-degree rape and fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse; and
  • creating the crime of “Sexually Motivated Felony” in cases where certain other crimes, like burglary or robbery, are committed for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator.

Assemblymember Lavine noted that additional measures moving through the Assembly to crack down on sex predators who target children include creating a new felony crime of “luring” a child under the age of 14 for the purpose of committing a violent crime (A.1668), which passed the Assembly in January, and a bill punishing sending descriptions, as well as depictions, of nudity to a child to solicit the child through the Internet (A.2012).

The bill passed in the Assembly by a vote of 127-19 on March 6, 2007.

“Our people will be safer with these measures, especially with this new law to keep the most violent and dangerous sex predators out of society,” Assemblymember Lavine said. “I look forward to Governor Spitzer quickly signing this important legislation into law.”