Civil Commitment Cases
California Court of Appeal affirming the dismissal of an SVP petition, where the state relied on inadmissible hearsay in the form of expert evaluator reports to meet their burden of proof.
Kansas Court of Appeals opinion reversing denial of petition for transitional release from civil commitment, where jury instructions did not require the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant had a mental abnormality which would make it seriously difficult for him to control his behavior.
Federal trial court in Minnesota refusing to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit alleging constitutional violations stemming from MSOP officials refusing to allow family visitations with civilly committed individual.
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
When people convicted of sex offenses in the United States finish their criminal sentences, they generally face a slew of regulations and restrictions — from offender registries to residency restrictions to the possibility of lifelong civil commitment — that leave them isolated, stigmatized, and surveilled. But while Richard knew that living in the free world as a convicted sex offender wouldn’t be easy, nothing prepared him for the reality. …Posted: September 27, 2019
WaPo: In Arlington, a judge must decide if a nonviolent sex offender should stay incarcerated after serving his sentence
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. …Posted: August 25, 2019
By Sessi Blanchard | July 15th, 2019 On July 7, 2018, Kendra Michelle Lovejoy did to herself what no one else would: surgery. Wielding a disposable razor, she made incisions into her testicles. She was rushed to the hospital where physicians performed …Posted: July 15, 2019