Civil Confinement for Sex Offenders Research Paper
Civil Confinement for Sex Offenders began in the state of New York on April 13, 2007 with the enactment of the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) (SOMTA, 2008). O’Connor (n.d.) states; “that this act covers prisoners already serving sentences, those on parole, those on conditional release, and those on post release supervision”. There are two types of post release confinement “options.” One is called “Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment” (SIST). SIST is a modified “parole type” program. The Division of Parole closely supervises the offender. The other “option” is civil confinement where the offender would be confined to a psychiatric hospital (SOMTA, 2008). This act was put into effect to keep the offenders most likely to reoffend either off the streets or under close supervision. Candidates for SIST and Civil Confinement
One requirement for being sentenced to SIST or Civil Confinement is being judged likely to reoffend. There is a system that an offender must go through in order to be sentenced to Civil Confinement or SIST. The first step is for the case to be reviewed by the Office of Mental Health (OMH). The OMH conducts an assessment and an appraisal which will either show that the offender has a mental abnormality or that they should be released. If the offender is found to have a mental abnormality, the case is referred to the Attorney General for litigation. If the Attorney General feels that Civil Management is necessary, they must file a petition and prove with evidence that the offender should either be confined or should have to participate in intensive treatment. The jury must deliver a unanimous decision otherwise the offender will be released (SOMTA, 2008). If the offender is released and their sentence is complete, they will not be on parole. The SIST program is a way of applying parole in a case where the sentence has been served in its entirety.
The New York State Criminal Defense Organization (O’Conner n.d.) argues that the Act “casts a net too wide”, including not only repeat, predatory, and violent offenders, but also first time offenders, and “two dozen non-sex crimes found to be sexually motivated.” Some of the crimes that one would not normally think of that can be considered “sexually motivated” include arson, robbery, and burglary, all in the first or second degree (O’Connor, n.d.). O’Connor mentions that the net is wide, but fails to mention statistical data that reflects the large amount of referrals that are deemed ineligible for Civil Management. While first time offenders and non-violent offenders may be able to be referred for evaluation, they may not be eligible after being evaluated. Methods for Determining Chance of Recidivism
Aside from being determined “Mentally Abnormal”, there are other methods used to determine whether or not an offender is likely to reoffend. Some of those methods include past offences, use of weapons during offences, history of antisocial behavior, participation in sex offender therapy, prison behavior, and a grading system used in New York State called STATIC 99 (O’Connor, n.d.). STATIC 99 relies on factual information provided by both the offender and the offender’s file regarding personal information and past offences. Each answer is given a numerical “grade.” When combined and totaled, the number corresponds to a score which then points to a percentage for 5, 10, and 15 years. The percentage reflects the likelihood of recidivism (Hansen, et al, 2003). The STATIC 99 tool can be a useful item for Defense Attorneys to gage how clients will do with their Civil Management Evaluation. According to STATIC 99, the higher the score, the more likely the offender is to re-offend, both violently and sexually. The chance increases with time. The percentages increase dramatically every five years according to the model (Hansen, et al., 2003) Double Jeopardy...
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Hansen, R., Harris, A., Phenix, A., Thornton, D. (2003). STATIC 99 Coding Rules – Revised 2003. Retrieved June 18, 2009 from http://ww2.ps-sp.gc.ca/publications/corrections/pdf/Static-99-coding-Rules_e.pdf
O’Connor, A. (n.d). “Actuarial Justice” – Representing Sex Offenders Facing Lifetime Civil Confinement. New York State Defenders Association. Retrieved June 18, 2009 from http://www.communityalternatives.org/pdf/SOMTA%20Guide.pdf
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