New York state lawmakers introduces bill allowing government to detain people
A Democratic New York State lawmaker has introduced a new bill that would grant authorities new powers to remove people from society and place them in a detention center if they’re found to be a “carrier” of an infectious virus.
The proposed legislation would allow the government to detain anyone deemed to be a potential “public health risk.”
The bill was authored by New York State Assembly Member N. Nick Perry, a Democrat.
Bill A416 calls for the “removal and/or detention” of individuals who are identified as a “case, contact or carrier” of a contagious disease.
“Such person or group of persons shall be detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises,” Perry’s bill states.
While the law does not specifically mention COVID-19, it comes amid increasing concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could be used to usher in authoritarianism.
The sweeping powers would be employed in the event of the state government declaring a health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease, the bill proposes, according to reports.
The legislation states that the government must provide “clear and convincing evidence” that the health of others is in danger before ordering a person or group to be detained.
People being “removed” will have the right to legal representation and are allowed to supply the telephone numbers of friends or family to receive notification of the individual’s detention.
The law apparently allows the governor or health official to unilaterally approve such detentions but a court order is required within 60 days of confinement, and judicial review is also required if the individual is still in detention after 90 days.
Citizens that are placed in detention will be released once health authorities determine that they are no longer contagious, the proposed law states.
The bill also allows the governor or relevant health authorities to require people deemed potential health risks to submit to medical examinations as well as undergo a “prescribed course of treatment, preventative medication or vaccination.”
The law does not specifically mention coronavirus.
On his website, Perry says A416 “Relates to the removal of cases, contacts, and carriers of communicable diseases who are potentially dangerous to the public health.”
In fact, the Democratic lawmaker introduced a nearly identical bill during the 2015-2016 legislative session, but it appears to have gone nowhere.
The current iteration of the proposed law will be reviewed by the assembly’s health committee next week.
Although the legislation is still a long way off from adoption, it caused considerable consternation on social media.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 2, 2021
“I knew Cuomo was a bit of an authoritarian anti-Semite but I never thought the state would go literal Nazi,” Conservative commenter Ian Miles Cheong wrote, referring to New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
The governor has previously been accused of imposing draconian crackdowns on New York City’s Jewish community, which has resisted many of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed across the state.
“This was a conspiracy theory, like many other things, 9-10 months ago,” noted a similarly outraged Twitter user.
This was a conspiracy theory, like many other things, 9-10 months ago.
— Wakey Wakey 🇺🇲 (@Wak3yWak3y) January 2, 2021