Is Civil Confinement Necessary for NY Sex Offender?

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Is civil confinement necessary for New York sex offender Nushawn Williams? New York is struggling with that question as Williams, 33, completed his 12 year prison sentence recently.

Williams is a former drug dealer who infected at least 13 women with the HIV virus before pleading guilty in 1998 to statutory rape and reckless endangerment.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo moved to keep Williams in custody just before his release, using a 3-year-old civil law that allows extended confinement in cases where someone has a mental abnormality and is likely to offend again.

Yesterday, State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski decided at a probable cause hearing on the issue of civil confinement that Williams should have a trial to decide if the state of New York has grounds to indefinitely commit him as a dangerous sex offender.

Williams is to remain in custody until trial, which Michalski tentatively set for October.

Williams is reported to have told a state psychologist in March that he did not remember being told he was HIV positive in 1996, that he did not know his status until 1997 and never intended to infect anyone.

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"I was having sex with females and wasn't protecting myself. I was putting myself in as much a risk as they was," Williams told Dr. Jacob Hadden, whose report formed the basis of the attorney general's confinement efforts.

Williams told a reporter in 1999 that he'd had sex with 200 to 300 partners before his arrest. The youngest of those infected with HIV was 13. Two of the infected women later had children born with the virus.

While New York decides whether civil confinement is the right answer in this case, it is important for all of us to be educated to safe sex practices to prevent the spread of HIV.

To protect yourself from getting HIV

  1. Don't have sex at all (anal, vaginal, and oral sex).
  2. Only have sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) if you are in a mutually monogamous relationship and you have both tested negative for HIV.
  3. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
  4. Reduce your number of sex partners; this will reduce your risk of getting HIV as well as other STDs.
  5. Encourage all sexual partners to get tested for HIV and make sure they tell you the results.
  6. Locate an HIV and STD testing site near you or from your mobile phone, text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948). You can also call 1-800-CDC-INFO for assistance in locating a testing site.
  7. If you ar

e a man who has sex with other men or if you engage in anal sex, get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B viruses.

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Sources
Buffalo News
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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