New York State's highest court has struck down the practice of confining sex offenders in psychiatric hospitals after their prison terms end, says the New York Times. The ruling ordered immediate hearings to determine whether those being held should be released. The 7-0 decision by the Court of Appeals was a rebuke to Gov. George Pataki, who last year ordered the confinement of 12 sex offenders after lawmakers failed to agree on legislation that would have permitted such detention.
The court said the state erred in using mental hygiene laws to confine the 12 men, 11 of whom are being held involuntarily at psychiatric hospitals in New York City. Pataki said he would call for a special legislative session next week to push for legislation to allow for the civil confinement. The governor has made tougher treatment of recidivist sex offenders a signature law-enforcement issue.