LEADERS NEGOTIATE SEX OFFENDER BILL
While supported by victims' rights advocates and Governor George Pataki, civil confinement measures have failed to pass in the Democrat-led Assembly, in part because of concerns about the civil rights of sex offenders who already have served their time. But this year the Assembly has introduced its own civil commitment bill to rival the one proposed by Senate Republicans. Both are part of a slew of sex offender-related legislation introduced against a backdrop of recent high profile sex crimes. Significant differences between the bills remained after both sides met last week, but leaders said they were committed to hammering out a compromise and would meet again on February 13. Senate Republicans have criticized the Assembly's bill as ineffective and overly protective of sex offenders' rights. But Democrats say their version offers a better balance between public safety and due process and is more comprehensive, with provisions for additional treatment while offenders are still in prison as well as for lifetime parole supervision.
Others criticize the Democrats' bill for not going far enough. Noting there is no option for a mistrial if a jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, Laura Ahearn of Parents for Megan's Law said, it creates insurmountable obstacles and gaping loopholes that sabotage the criteria and process for civilly confining even the most violent of sexual predators.