Combating Sex Crimes
Assembly’s sexual predator package will make New York a safer place
Plan is toughest, most comprehensive approach to combat sex offenders
A tough, comprehensive and effective plan to protect New York’s communities from sexual predators has been proposed by the Assembly majority.
The Child Safety and Sexual Predator Punishment and Confinement Strategy, the result of a series of public hearings, includes not just civil commitment, but tougher penalties, expanded monitoring of sex offenders and improved services for crime victims.
It’s clear that dangerous sex offenders need to be kept off the streets. After public hearings and careful research, the Assembly majority introduced a comprehensive plan that addresses the threat of sexual predators in our communities.
Specifically, the legislation includes:
After carefully researching this issue, the Assembly majority has proposed a more thorough, more effective plan than any other currently under consideration in Albany. The Assembly majority urges the governor and Senate to join it in supporting this innovative plan for making our communities safer.
Stricter sentencing for serious sex crimes
The Assembly’s plan provides for up to life sentences for the most heinous sex crimes—those where the perpetrator harmed the victim, threatened the use of a weapon, committed the crime against multiple victims, or was previously convicted of a felony sex crime.
Adults convicted of serious sex crimes in which the victim is under the age of 13 could spend the rest of their lives in prison, regardless of any other aggravating circumstance.
Civil commitment for the worst sexual predators
A key element of the plan provides for the potential lifetime civil commitment of sexual predators after they finish their prison sentences. Under the Assembly’s plan, the process would begin with the state Attorney General petitioning the courts after a psychiatric examination of the offender and input from mental health professionals.
Sex offenders subject to civil commitment would have the same due process as in a criminal proceeding—including access to a public defender and a probable cause hearing. Civil commitment would be ordered if a jury unanimously decided that an offender is a violent sexual predator who is likely to repeat a horrific crime again.
And even if it is determined that civil commitment is not necessary, the Attorney General would still have the ability to ensure a convicted sex offender remains under intense supervision. While those civilly confined could be housed in state mental hygiene facilities, they would be barred from coming in contact with the general population of patients with mental disabilities.
Mandatory treatment for incarcerated sex offenders
The Assembly’s package also requires mandatory treatment for incarcerated sex offenders. The state Department of Correctional Services currently operates a sex offender treatment program but it is not required by law and it lasts for only six months—one of the shortest prison-based programs in the nation. Under the plan, an expert panel would be formed to determine the best way to improve methods for the treatment of sex offenders.
The Assembly’s plan also includes other significant legislation, including a measure to immediately stop sex offenders from being removed from the state registry while the federal government considers Megan’s Law changes that could be enacted at the state level as well (A.9082).
The plan also includes the Sexual Abuse Prevention Act (A.8294), which:
Other bills would require the development of a mandatory, age-appropriate public school curriculum on how children can better protect themselves from sexual assault and abuse (A.8415) and make training videos to help parents protect their children available at public libraries and police precincts (A.9148).
A plan to keep our neighborhoods safer
Again, the Assembly majority’s plan to protect our communities and families from sexual predators is easily the most comprehensive, tough and effective plan introduced so far. It would impose tougher sentences on sex offenders, keep the most dangerous predators civilly confined, and intensely monitor them if they are released.
Passage of the Assembly’s plan will help New York families sleep better at night. The Assembly majority fully expects the Senate and governor to join it in making this plan the law of the land and a significant accomplishment of the 2006 session.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto