By Philip Fornaci & Roger Lancaster | August 23, 2019
On Monday, the Circuit Court in liberal Arlington County will be the scene of a heavy-handed morality play, with prosecutors seeking lifelong incarceration for a young gay man who has already paid an extraordinary price for youthful, nonviolent sexual indiscretions.
Virginia, like 19 other states and the federal government, has a Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA). Under these laws, people who have completed their criminal sentences under any of a large number of sex-related offenses can be indefinitely detained in a high-security facility until the state determines that they no longer present a risk, typically never.
Civil libertarians have always objected to such practices. They smack of double jeopardy, of ex post facto punishment and of a glaring form of Catch-22: The defendant is deemed mentally fit to stand trial but is mentally unfit for release. The Supreme Court has swatted aside such objections, ruling that civil commitment is not punitive as long as the state claims that the purpose of detention is psychiatric treatment.
Read at The Washington Post