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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

NY Court Stikes Down Psychiatric Confinement of Prioners After Release Date

From NYTimes.com: New York's highest court yesterday struck down the Pataki administration’s practice of confining sex offenders in psychiatric hospitals after their prison terms end and ordered immediate hearings to determine whether those being held should be released.

The 7-0 decision by the state Court of Appeals was a sharp rebuke to Gov. George E. Pataki, who last year ordered the confinement of 12 sex offenders after lawmakers failed to agree on legislation that would have explicitly permitted such detention.

In yesterday’s ruling, the court found that the state erred in using mental hygiene laws to confine the 12 men, 11 of whom are still held involuntarily at psychiatric hospitals in New York City. The men had legal protections as prisoners that entitled them to hearings before being ordered confined upon their release, the court found.

“These people were characterized as being free citizens. The fact is that they were prisoners, and were entitled to the protections built into the correction law before they can be sent from prison to a psychiatric hospital,” said Stephen J. Harkavy of Mental Hygiene Legal Service, a state agency that represented the 12 men. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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