Civil Commitment Cases
9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversing the dismissal of a civil rights complaint, alleging that confinement in a jail as a civil committee violated constitutional rights.
Texas Supreme Court decision holding that in a SVP proceeding, the right to appear at trial means physical presence.
Texas Supreme Court opinion finding that, while it was error not to submit a jury instruction in a SVP trial informing the jury that they did not need to reach a unanimous verdict to find for the Petitioner, this error was harmless.
Civil Commitment Secondary Materials
Twenty-one states and the federal government have civil commitment schemes that provide for the further confinement of sex offenders after they have completed their prison sentences. These schemes survive constitutional scrutiny on the grounds that they are not a second prison sentence, but rather serve the non-criminal ends of protecting society and helping treat violent sex offenders. The underlying legislation confirms the treatment objective by elaborating statutory guidelines for treatment programs. This Comment argues that treatment–although guaranteed by statute, legislative findings, case law, and the constitution–is an empty promise. Indeed, participation in treatment harms the very offender that it purports to help. This treatment paradox arises because successful treatment and relapse prevention require that an offender discuss his sexual fantasies and past transgressions; yet, unprotected by privilege or confidentiality, these cathartic admissions are utilized in civil commitment proceedings to secure further confinement. Because the prosecution heavily relies on treatment records to show that the offender continues to suffer from a mental abnormality and because the completion of treatment does not favorably impact an offender’s chance of release, offenders often elect to forgo treatment. This treatment disincentive effectively denies offenders the opportunity to heal and to obtain release from commitment through treatment, an opportunity envisioned by statute and by the civil commitment scheme’s constitutional underpinnings.
Arielle W. Tolman, Sex Offender Civil Commitment to Prison Post-Kingsley, 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. 155 (2018) [Ed Note: This article is published as Arielle W. Tolman, Sex Offender Civil Commitment Post-Kingsley, 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. 155 (2018). The abs …
Sex offender civil commitment (SOCC) is a massive deprivation of liberty as severe as penal incarceration. Because it eschews most of the “great safeguards” constraining the criminal power, SOCC demands careful constitutional scrutiny. Although the Supreme Court has clearly applied heightened scrutiny in judging civil commitment schemes, it has never actually specified where on the scrutiny spectrum its analysis falls. This article argues that standard three-tier scrutiny analysis is not the most coherent way to understand the Supreme Court’s civil commitment jurisprudence. Rather than a harm-balancing judgment typical of three-tier scrutiny, the Court’s civil commitment cases are best understood as forbidden purpose cases, a construct that is familiar in many areas of the Court’s constitutional analysis…
Civil Commitment News
In response to the current COVID-19 Pandemic, the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center has published a set of guidelines for law enforcement, policy experts, and others with respect to law and policy focused on those with past convictions …Posted: March 28, 2020
Reason — After He Found California’s Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders Wasn’t Working, the State Shut Him Down and Destroyed His Research
By Steven Yoder | From the April 2020 Issue In late 2006, a public defender went before a Napa County judge to argue for his client’s freedom. Rex McCurdy, a 49-year-old man, had been detained for seven years at Atascadero State Hospital under a 1995 C …Posted: March 6, 2020
By Hallie Lieberman | Feb. 2020 Sandy Rozek is the polar opposite of what comes to mind when you hear the word activist. A 78-year-old great-grandmother and retired high school English teacher who lives in Houston, Rozek is not woke, doesn’t post on Tw …Posted: January 25, 2020