Fitzpatrick: Majority’s Civil Confinement Bill Inadequate

January 25, 2006

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) joined his Assembly minority colleagues Monday in supporting a majority version of civil confinement legislation (A.9282), but he cautioned the measure does not go far enough to protect individuals and sex-crime victims throughout New York.

“It is my hope that the vote we took on civil confinement will force the state Legislature to call for a joint conference committee to come to an agreement on adequate civil confinement legislation, similar to what was achieved when we passed Megan’s Law,” said Fitzpatrick. “The provisions of the majority’s legislation fall far short of past minority proposals and the current proposals made by Gov. George Pataki.”

The Assembly minority has for years promoted a civil confinement measure that has been blocked from coming to the floor for debate and a vote by the majority. A joint conference committee, if established, would consider all civil confinement policies advanced by both sides of the aisle and attempt to reach an agreement on bipartisan legislation.

The specific provisions of the Assembly majority legislation that are unacceptable to the Assembly minority include:

  • Individuals currently incarcerated for sex offenses would not be eligible for civil confinement
  • Offenders accepting plea agreements would be exempt
  • A strict standard of five criteria must be met before sex offenders can be considered for civil confinement
  • Sexual predators found eligible for civil confinement must meet two separate jury determinations before they are eventually confined.

Assembly minority legislative proposals include eliminating plea agreements for sex crimes, making all jailed sex offenders eligible for civil confinement, and allowing for a single jury determination for civil confinement.

Gov. George Pataki earlier Monday unveiled a legislative package – known as “Jessica’s Law” – that is consistent with minority initiatives in the ongoing battle against sex offenders. The provisions include:

Tougher Sentences for Sex Crimes against Children

  • Mandatory A-I felony sentence of 25 years to life for violent sexual felonies against children.
  • Increase age threshold for most serious sex crimes against children from “under 11” to “under 13.”
  • Mandatory life without parole sentence for causing the death of a child during a sexual assault.
  • Creation of a higher-level A-I felony offense for using children under the age of 13 in a sexual performance.
  • Increased sentencing for all other sex crimes against children.

Lengthier Sentences for Repeat Sex Offenders

  • Mandatory 25-years-to-life sentences for all second-time sexual felony offenders.

Stronger Sentences for the “Worst of the Worst” Sex Offenders

  • Mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life for convictions under a new crime of “predatory sexual assault.”
  • Aggravating factors for the new crime would include: causing serious physical injury; use or display of a gun, deadly weapon or what appears to be a gun or deadly weapon during commission of the crime; committing more than one sexual assault; and conviction on a prior sexual or violent offense.

Strengthening Other Sexual Assault Laws

  • Adding numerous sex crimes to list of “violent felony offenses.”
  • Eliminating requirement that “physical injury” be demonstrated in aggravated sex abuse cases.
  • Require the Board of Parole to consider input from the state Board of Sex Examiners prior to granting parole to any sex offender.
  • Make second-degree sexual abuse (subjecting a person incapable of consent to sexual contact for any reason except age) a felony. Currently, it is only a misdemeanor to subject a person who is physically helpless or mentally disabled or incapacitated to sexual contact.