Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Day 5,063

Assembly Minority members today heeded Gov. Spitzer's call for passage of civil commitment legislation for sex predators by calling for immediate action and final passage of the issue - some 5,063 days after their conference first proposed the idea. They are calling for swift legislative passage in both houses and the re-convening of a public joint conference committee to hammer out an agreement if differences remain. To help jumpstart the process, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga) has named Assemblyman Dave Townsend (R,C,I-Kirkland) to be the Assembly Minority appointee to the conference committee.

Assembly Minority members said rapid movement on this long delayed issue would not only be of great benefit to the safety of children in the state, but would also send a clear signal that things are indeed changing.

Assembly Minority members first introduced civil commitment legislation (A.5515) on March 2, 1993 only to see the measure blocked from a vote year after year in the Assembly. A similar measure has passed the State Senate 10 times by near unanimous votes, including just last month in a Special Session.

"Today is Day 11 but it's really Day 5,063 for civil commitment. That's how long we and the families of this state have been waiting on the Assembly Majority to act," said Tedisco. "Let's see if everything really has changed. Let's move on this issue immediately, debate this thing in public and hammer out an agreement that keeps the worst of the worst sex offenders off the streets after they're released from prison, and away from children, and in secure facilities where they can receive intensive mental health treatment."

After 13 years of refusing to act on the issue, the Assembly Majority advanced their own bill last year. Their measure, however, didn't cover as many offenders including those under the age of 18, and covered fewer offenses. It also called for greater use of supervised parole instead of actual confinement in a secure facility even after the offender was deemed to have a mental abnormality and likely to re-offend.

Gov. Spitzer seemed to back the current Minority version in his State of the State address last week saying, "One New York means a state where parents do not have to worry about a sexual predator being released straight from prison back into their neighborhood."

Townsend, Tedisco's choice for a future conference committee, is a former state police officer who serves as the Ranking Minority member of the Assembly Codes Committee.

"For the last 13 years I have been an advocate for civil commitment for the worst violent sexual predators. As a former police officer, and family man, I find it unacceptable that these violent criminals are released back into our communities despite their high recidivism rate," said Townsend. "Just a few weeks ago, the Senate unanimously passed civil commitment legislation during a special session day.

Former Governor Pataki had pen in hand prepared to sign the legislation into law, yet Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to allow the legislation to leave the committee for public debate and a public vote. I eagerly await the opportunity to address this issue in a joint conference committee so the matter can finally be resolved, protecting our children with real civil confinement law. There is simply no other alternative."

"Why wait any longer to get this done? We first proposed this when Mario Cuomo was governor. There has been a lot of talk about everything changing around here. Well, it's time for some action on this long overdue public safety issue. This is getting ridiculous," said Tedisco.

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