New York State’s most dangerous sex offenders will be locked up in psychiatric centers after their prison terms end if a court determines they pose a threat to the public, Gov. Eliot Spitzer said today, the Associated Press reports. Spitzer and legislators negotiated a new “civil confinement” law after the state’s highest court struck down former Gov. George Pataki’s order preventing such offenders from being released.
Under the rules announced today, mental health experts will assess inmates’ scheduled release from prison to determine if they pose a risk of committing more sex offenses. A jury will decide whether a convict is likely to commit future crimes and a judge will rule on confining the offender or requiring intensive supervision. Spitzer said about 1,500 state inmates could be subject to civil confinement, but only a few hundred are likely to be kept locked up. More than a dozen states have laws that allow sex offenders to be involuntarily held or committed to an institution after their prison terms.