For the second time in eight months, New York’s highest court ruled former Gov. George Pataki exceeded his authority when he tried to keep sex offenders locked up after completing their criminal sentences, Gannett News Service reports. The Court of Appeals said, 7 to 0, that the former governor erred when he tried to invoke a section of the state’s mental hygiene law to transfer 10 offenders directly from prison to a mental-health facility after finishing their sentences. The prisoners they should at least have been granted hearings to determine whether they were a danger to society, the court said.
Earlier this year – after the 12 prisoners in the first case won – new Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislators enacted a law that allows the government to keep sex offenders locked up after completing their sentences. The multi-step process includes a mental-health evaluation, a determination by the attorney general’s office, a jury trial to determine “mental abnormality,” and a judge’s decision whether to mandate confinement or release with intense supervision.