A November ruling by the state’s highest court, which unanimously found that the state was wrong to keep sexual predators behind bars without prior court hearings, has prompted Governor George E. Pataki to call a special legislative session to address the hotly debated civil confinement issue.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) is calling for a quick and productive session that will serve in the best interest of children and families in New York State.
“We have seen countless examples of repeat offenders being let back on the streets only to commit another heinous act against a child,” said Hawley. "I am confident that we can reach an agreement on civil confinement that is firm, but also is in accordance with the court’s decision.”
The court has also ordered that, should the state continue to seek civil confinement for sexual predators past their prison terms, it will have to use a more strict procedure in holding court hearings before detaining the sex offender.
“The court has ruled and we will respond accordingly,” said Hawley. “We have an obligation to parents and families of this state to make sure that violent predators are kept behind bars and our children are protected.”
Hawley points to the Senate as having repeatedly passed legislation legalizing civil confinement, while the New York City-controlled Assembly has blocked passage, leaving the Governor to use a state law pertaining to the involuntary commitments of the mentally ill to keep some sexual predators incarcerated past their release dates.
“Assembly leadership is playing politics with the safety of our children,” said Hawley. “I was sent to Albany by the people of the 139th District to do what is in the best interest of all citizens, and that includes our children. When it comes to the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, I will not tolerate political squabbles getting in the way of what needs to be done.”
The legislative special session has been called for December 13th.