Fitzpatrick: Civil Confinement Will Keep Violent Sex Offenders Secured In Mental Health Facilities and Off The Streets

Years of Advocacy and Public Support Helped Secure Legislation
March 6, 2007

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) praised the passage of civil confinement law today as a milestone in the effort to protect women and children. The law, which comes 14 years after the Assembly minority first proposed civil confinement legislation, will send sex offenders to secure mental health facilities after their release if they are found likely to re-offend.

“Over the years, our conference has continuously fought to protect women and children from sex offenders,” said Fitzpatrick. “Finally, our colleagues across the aisle have been able to push politics aside and agree on this critical legislation.”

Under the legislation, a screening panel composed of mental health officials will decide whether a released sex offender is a candidate for mental health treatment. If found likely to re-offend by a screening panel, they will be sent to a secure facility to receive mental health treatment.

The law also increases the penalties for sex crimes and expands the category of sexual offense to include crimes motivated by sexual violence. For example, an individual who breaks into a house to rape a woman will be charged with a sex crime even if the woman is unharmed.

An Office of Sex Offender Management will also be established 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.

“I hope families with young children will be able to rest a little easier knowing that these predators will be off our streets and receiving the treatment they need,” said Fitzpatrick.

New York joins 16 other states including Arizona, California, Florida and Massachusetts that currently have laws authorizing the confinement of sex offenders.