Civil Commitment Report Card–Its Failings Being Overcome by Judicial Action

Ben Loefke, Staff Writer

Instead of committing three time sex-offender Daniel Gierszewski of Buffalo to civil confinement, New York State Supreme Court Judge, Richard C. Kloch Sr. decided that stringent parole conditions would suffice for the recently released convict.1 Each of Gierszewski’s convictions has involved sexual misconduct with young girls, aged sixteen, fifteen, thirteen, and ten.2 After serving his most recent sentence—a fourteen year stint for fondling a ten year old girl—Gierszewski, has been in an upstate psychiatric center pursuant to a New York law that allows for the commitment of recidivist sex offenders to be civilly committed if they are shown to have “mental abnormality” that prevents them from controlling their predatory urges.3

In 2007, at the prodding of then Governor Elliot Spitzer, the New York state legislature passed into law the bill that became section ten of the Mental Hygiene law.4 It was fourteen years coming, but finally the state decided to follow the example set by nearly twenty other states and adopt legislation that would enable civil confinement of sex offenders with mental problems that made it likely they would recidivate.5 The statute allows for civil confinement of detained sex offenders who can be proven by the attorney general to suffer from “mental abnormality.”6 The law’s stated purpose is “to protect the public, reduce recidivism, and ensure offenders have access to proper treatment.”7 The general idea behind the civil confinement is that mentally ill sex offenders should not be permitted to rejoin society when it is likely that they will victimize someone again because they lack control over their own conduct. Continue reading “Civil Commitment Report Card–Its Failings Being Overcome by Judicial Action”

Sex Offenders Domicile: Not in My Backyard!

Benjamin Adams, Staff Writer

In our society, the treatment of sex offenders is a highly debated issue.  There are many who believe sex offenders should be treated in a much harsher manner, and there are also those who believe sex offenders are too harshly punished, and stripped of their rights.  New propositions and declarations are made constantly, and they are of an extremely diverse nature. 

Over 90,000 sex offenders have recently been removed from MySpace in response to efforts made by the Attorney Generals of the states of Connecticut and North Carolina.1  The Fourth Circuit, in their ruling in United States v. Comstock,2 unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision that 18 U.S.C. § 4248 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is unconstitutional.3 Many courts have upheld this ruling, which states that Congress does not have the authority to enact § 4248 concerning the civil commitment of sex offenders following their incarceration.4  This struck down section had allowed the U.S. attorney general’s office to obtain a stay, prolonging the federal detention of any person convicted of particular sex-related offenses through a “certification alleging sexual dangerousness.”5  However, provisions of the federal law funding state civil-commitment programs with $10 million each year through 2010 are not overruled.6  In addition, the ruling does not affect the legality of state civil-commitment laws.7  This ruling itself exemplifies the debate of whether sex offenders should be confined.  Some cities have gone so far as setting up their own sex offender colonies.8  However, there are also cases in which people feel sex offender registrations and laws may have gone too far.  For example, in Georgia, a young promising athlete had his future seriously infringed upon by having consensual, oral sex with a classmate.9

In many states, previous sex offenders must register with the government, and are restricted in where they are able to live and work.10  For instance, in New York, Level 1 sex offenders register for twenty years, while Level 2 and 3 offenders are registered for life.11  Police are able to monitor the movements of the entire offenders list, while the general public can access the list of Level 2 and 3 offenders.12  With the ever growing population of both the general community and registered sex offenders, and the ability of the public to follow the habitation of sex offenders, there is an ongoing debate of where to put all the sex offenders and who will pay for any adjustments to a community that needs to be made.13 Continue reading “Sex Offenders Domicile: Not in My Backyard!”