LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Some of New York State’s most dangerous sex offenders could potentially be released from special ‘civil confinement’ conditions due to a late October overturn of Article 10, the law allowing the Attorney General’s Office to file a petition for civil management (which can include confinement) following a recommendation by the NYS Office of Mental Health for any sex offender diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Though there has been some community concern that the State’s mentally ill sex offenders could be put at large once again, members of the Livingston County District Attorney’s Office explained that the process for releasing a sex offender from civil confinement is extremely complex, and it is very unlikely that the process will allow high-risk-level sex offenders will be released in Livingston County, and people who commit sex crimes in Livingston County will still be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“Our office doesn’t have anything to do with the decision, and from our end we will be seeking clarification on a few terms,” said District Attorney Greg McCaffrey. “If I have a strong case and justice calls for a certain sentence, I am definitely going to pursue that.”
News partner 13WHAM reports that in late October, a NYS court of appeals determined that a sex offender could not be kept civilly confined based solely on a diagnosis of an antisocial personality disorder. The court ruled that while the disorder establishes a general tendency of criminal behavior, that doesn’t necessarily mean the offender cannot control their sexual urges.
News partner 13WHAM reports that less than 1-percent of sex offenders are sent to civil confinement. Of the 37,000 sex offenders registered in New York State, only 286 are in civil confinement.
Benjamin Rosen, public information officer with the Office of Mental Health, added that so few of those in civil confinement have antisocial personality disorder and are eligible for this type of release that to give a figure could identify individuals who are in there care. Assistant District Attorney Josh Tonra added that these very few sex offenders now eligible for release must go through complex legal proceedings before being released.
“True, this ruling could affect sex offenders who have been convicted in Livingston County, but it’s a small percentage of sex offenders who are subject to civil confinement,” said Assistant District Attorney Josh Tonra. “Basically, there is a jury trial to determine if a sex offender is mentally able to re-integrate into society after incarceration.”