November 30, 2012

Civil Commitment referrals of New York sex offenders fall

11-28-2012 New York:

New York’s civil commitment program, designed to house and treat mentally unbalanced sex offenders, is taking in a smaller percentage of criminals than in past years, records show.

The percentage of sex offenders being routed into the psychiatric civil commitment program has steadily decreased since the program started in 2007, according to state data.

That drop is helping the state temporarily avoid the excessive costs of creating new space for civil commitment. However, the state continues to bump up against its capacity at its psychiatric facilities for civilly confined sex offenders, records show.

Program supporters contend the decline in the numbers of confined sex offenders is proof of the rigors of the psychological evaluations for civil commitment.

Opponents question whether a harsh reality — the likelihood that the costly program will need new space for offenders in coming years — may be driving the decrease.

“I think they’re facing the cold fiscal reality of the statute,” said Al O’Connor, a staff lawyer and civil commitment expert with the New York State Defenders Association.

One expert said the fewer number of people routed into civil commitment shows that New York is not using the program to warehouse sex offenders. Instead, said Dr. John Bradford, New York is likely sending the true sexual predators into confinement where they can be treated.

“I think New York is probably doing it right,” said Bradford, a forensics psychiatrist from Canada with whom New York officials consulted when starting ...continued... by Gary Craig

No comments: