An agreement was reached at the Capitol on civil confinement legislation for sex offenders, Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey (R,I,C-Peru) reported today. “The Assembly Minority has been leading efforts to enact this since March 2, 1993. We have enjoyed widespread public support, and this is long overdue,” Duprey said.
“This legislation will help protect our local communities, and will help keep our families safe. This will finally make sex offenders accountable by receiving either the treatment they need - or in the worst cases - get the severe punishment they deserve,” Duprey stated.
The agreement does the following:
- Keeps dangerous sex offenders off the streets after they are released from prison, away from children, and in secure facilities where they can receive intensive mental health treatment;
- Establishes a state Office of Sex Offender Management to coordinate all areas related to sex offenders and victims including post-release supervision, treatment, monitoring, risk assessment, civil commitment, community awareness and victim assistance;
- Gives judges the option of imposing intensive supervision as an alternative to confining offenders in a secure mental facility;
- Creates screening panels, which determine whether a released prisoner is a candidate for civil confinement, composed of mental health officials;
- Includes stiffer penalties for sex offenders and broadens the category of sexual offense to include crimes motivated by sexual violence. For example, a person who is caught breaking into a house to rape a woman would be charged with a sexually motivated offense even if the offender does not succeed in harming the woman;
- Mandates determinate (fixed) sentencing for sex offenders.
Sixteen other states currently have laws authorizing the confinement of sex offenders. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the legality of civil confinement.
“Particularly, I am encouraged that a new office will be created for the supervision, treatment, and monitoring of sex offenders. Our area is home to eight major state correctional facilities, and we see first-hand how released sex offenders impact families and communities. If fully enacted, this would close loopholes and help address many of the needs that the current system is lacking; as was pointed out by the recent public hearing in Rouses Point,” Duprey said.
Duprey noted, “The reform agenda that the voters wanted me to take to Albany is moving forward, and very quickly. I am pleased to see that the North Country’s agenda is no longer an afterthought.”