In the state of New York, being branded as a sex offender can have very far-reaching consequences. In fact, New York has a controversial system for civil confinement that the Department of Justice is investigating to determine if it is a violation of the rights of offenders.
Because the stakes are so high in New York due to such severe potential consequences, Albany sex crime lawyers should be consulted as soon as you have been accused of wrongdoing so an attorney can help you to fight the serious accusations against you.
The Times Union has recently reported on the Department of Justice investigation into the civil confinement practices in New York. As the Times Union explains, the DOJ probe into the actions taken in New York came to light when the Department of Justice's special litigation officer conducted an interview with a sex offender who has been confined to a psychiatric center in Oneida County in Central New York.
The offender was confined under the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act, which is a decade-old law in New York that allows for sex offenders to be kept confined to secure psychiatric hospitals for an indefinite period of time after they have been released from prison.
Under the civil confinement rules, when convicted sex offenders are determined to have a mental abnormality that predisposes them to commit another sexual offense, the state can request a court hearing to have the patient committed. If the court approves the state's request for civil commitment, the offender can be required to stay in a secure psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period of time. Ostensibly, the purpose of the law was to ensure these offenders receive treatment.
Numerous legal challenges have been raised to this practice, and former offenders indicate that they are not actually receiving any treatment at all when they are civilly confined. Instead, those who have been civilly confined to psychiatric facilities have indicated that the experience is nothing more than another prison term in a hospital instead of in a correctional facility.
The Times Union has conducted multiple interviews in recent months with men who were civilly confined after committing offenses including rape and sexual abuse, with many of the men reporting that they have access to pornography in their confinement, that sexual activity is not punished, and that supposed mental health sessions are conducted by inexperienced social workers and turn into nothing more than fights over controlling the TV.
The Justice Department has also begun interviewing offenders, likely in order to determine if New York's program is a violation of their rights and if the offenders are being treated fairly when they are civilly confined. Past justice department investigations have resulted in jails, prisons, and youth detention facilities changing their operations and it is possible that the DOJ's actions here will result in changes as well.
Although there is a possibility for reform in the future, however, offenders are still subject to civil confinement in conditions that many believe provide minimal treatment and instead simply serve as another form of a prison sentence. If you are accused of a sex offense, you could potentially be at risk of civil confinement in your future. Albany sex crime lawyers can help you to fight conviction to try to fight for your freedom.