After Thirteen Years, No Civil Confinement Law

January 18, 2007

One of my first priorities for the 2007 legislative session is to get strict, meaningful civil confinement legislation passed and signed into law by the governor. As of today, it has been 5,068 days since the Assembly minority first proposed the idea. Now, our conference is calling for the reconvening of a public joint conference committee to reach agreement on the issue, and is calling for swift movement without delay.

This legislation has been delayed for far too long. This law is about the safety of our children, families, and communities, which is why we cannot wait any longer. As Governor Spitzer would say, let us work in the spirit of ‘One New York’, in a bi-partisan way, to reach agreement on a stiff law that keeps the worst kind of predator off the streets once they are released from prison.

In our own communities, we have seen the effects of not having a civil confinement law. In the Town of Hamlin, Monroe County, a level three sex offender was released into a mobile home park where young, innocent, and unsuspecting children live and play. Also, in the Town of Batavia, a convicted sexual predator was found living with a woman and her two young children. We cannot allow monsters like these to live in our neighborhoods. A civil confinement law would end this threat against our families and children.

Our conference first introduced civil confinement legislation (A.5515) on March 2, 1993 (2007, A.1842), during the Cuomo administration, only to see the measure blocked from a vote year after year in the Assembly. The Senate’s version of the bill has passed its house ten times by near unanimous votes, including during last month’s Special Session. The bill was supported by then Senator and current Lieutenant Governor David Paterson.

Last year, the Assembly majority introduced its own civil confinement bill. Their measure, however, did not cover as many offenders including those under the age of 18, and covered fewer offenses. It also called for greater use of supervised parole instead of actual confinement in a secure facility even after the offender was deemed to have a mental abnormality and likely to re-offend.

During his State of the State address, Governor Spitzer expressed strong support for a civil confinement law when he said, “One New York means a state where parents do not have to worry about a sexual predator being released straight from prison back into their neighborhood.”

Throughout my time in the State Assembly, I have been a vocal advocate of civil confinement. That is why I secured funding for local sheriffs’ departments to launch the Sex Offender Watch, an online service for families to track the presence of sexual predators in their neighborhoods.

I hope to work with my counterparts on the other side of the aisle to deliver meaningful civil confinement legislation. When it comes to the well-being of our children, partisan politics has no place in the discussion.