Ohio Supreme Court opinion holding that a state law designating certain individuals as sexually violent predators, subjecting them to enhanced criminal sentencing, could not be applied retroactively.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion affirming the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's 'sexually violent predator' designations, which require additional fact-finding beyond a conviction for a sexual offense.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Opinion holding that individual who state alleges meets the criteria for an SVP, but whom neither examiner concludes is an SVP, is entitled to release pending trial.
9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion affirming the dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit alleging that California's "sexually violent predator" designation violated a variety of constitutional rights.
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...
This Article uses internal memoranda and emails to describe the efforts of the California Department of Mental Health to suppress a serious and well-designed study that showed just 6.5% of untreated sexually violent predators were arrested for a new sex crime within 4.8 years of release from a locked mental facility. The Article begins by historically situating sexually violent predator laws and then explains the constitutionally critical role that prospective sexual dangerousness plays in justifying these laws. The Article next explains how the U.S. Supreme Court and the highest state courts have allowed these laws to exist without requir- ing any proof of actual danger. It then describes the California study and recon- ciles its findings with those of a well-known Washington study by explaining the preventive effects of increasing age. Finally, the Article explains how these results undermine the justification for indeterminate lifetime commitment of sex offenders.