Can there be life after civil commitment?

By Sandy . . . Over forty years ago, Wayne Chapman was convicted of raping two boys. He claimed to have had as many as a hundred victims.

He was sentenced to thirty years in prison, and when that was completed, under Massachusetts’s civil commitment laws, was confined further in a non-criminal facility where he was to be treated and evaluated and from where he would be released when he was determined no longer to be a danger to society.

That determination has been made.

Chapman, now 70, suffers from multiple health issues. He is in a wheelchair. He is unable to care for himself at the most basic level, including not being able to dress himself.

Approximately three months ago, when it was clear that Massachusetts law dictated his release, authorities levied new sexual crimes against him. He had, they said, exposed himself to a nurse in the hospital unit. Prior to this, in all of the forty plus years that Mr. Chapman has been incarcerated and civilly committed, there is nothing to suggest that he had engaged in this type of behavior.

His imminent release is, of course, on hold until these new charges, to which he has pled not guilty, work their way through the system.

In the meantime, forces from the governor down are aligning themselves to stop his release no matter what. Wendy Murphy, an attorney for one of the victims, has tried vigorously to block it, sharing emotional victim reactions with the press and calling into question the laws that allow release if two independent, state-sanctioned psychologists or psychiatrists find him no longer dangerous.

Governor Baker has called for legislation that mandates life in prison with no parole in some cases  and that increases the difficulty for anyone ever to be released from civil commitment.

Fear-mongering, scare tactics designed to inflame the public, and the dissemination of misinformation have dominated the situation. The two doctors whose independent examinations found Chapman no longer a threat and eligible for release have both received death threats.

June 11, Eric Tennen, one of Mr. Chapman’s attorneys, and Dr. Joseph Plaud, who has examined hundreds of civilly committed sexual offenders, gave a press conference with the stated purpose of fighting the hysteria with facts and scientific evidence.

Some of their main points were:

  • The extremely low sexual reoffense rate of released offenders
  • The age and physical condition of Mr. Chapman
  • The placement of Mr. Chapman in a hospital or similar facility, which would preclude access to children
  • The overwhelming success rate of Massachusetts’ civil commitment release program

Mr. Tennen chided the press for being so quick to report over the years on the pending release of sexual offenders from prison or civil commitment but totally lacking in follow-up a year or five or ten years later showing that all of the earlier fears were for naught and there had been no reoffenses.

Paul Shannon, chairman of the NARSOL board of directors, and attorney Eric Tennen are among those attempting to stop the proposed legislation. Paul reports, “Seven of us met with the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who took our concerns seriously. Our experts helped clarify for him just how this complicated process around civil commitment really works. Several of us will be meeting on this matter with another key senator on the Judiciary Committee next week in hopes of laying the groundwork for opposition to this bill.”

Not all states allow for civil commitment of those convicted of sexual crimes (see “Locked up for what you might do”). Whatever the outcome of the proposed legislation, the ability of a state to confine an individual beyond the limits of a court-ordered sentence is a dangerous thing. Few will be found who are willing or able to move beyond the desire to forever confine those who have at some point been judged dangerous and arrive at the point of realization that, while today it is sexual offenders, tomorrow it could be anyone.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #42148 Reply

      Civil Commitment does not rehabilitate and used as a cover to continue punishment of sex offenders. The so called self appointed experts on sex are actually sex perverts under cover.

    • #42149 Reply
      totally against public registry

      Hello Sandy,

      Thanks for reporting on this so important issue that is spreading like wild fire through our country. The “REGISTRY” is to blame for all of this- from beginning to end.
      Thanks to NARSOL and all who are working to undue this heinous crime that this country is committing!

    • #42153 Reply
      Capt Charles Munsey Jr. USN (Ret)

      Non-criminal commitment? What’s the story with the fence and the wire? Is that to keep the ‘good citizens’ of Mass out of the hospital? We as a nation have been deceived by ‘nice sounding’ words, signifying nothing.

      • #42161 Reply
        a man without a country

        Re: words signifying nothing… I’ve not been able to read Sandy’s new post yet because I am livid, literally pulling my hair out after reading something from an online newspaper of the state where I became a member of our exclusive club…

        The state’s deputy attorney general just recently said this at a gathering of attorneys in the state…
        “Think about these things happening to a child when they’re young, say 5 years old. The images of that are put on the internet. When they’re 35 or 40, they’re not a survivor of the abuse. It’s still going on,” he said.
        He cited victim impact statements where victims recounted how they were grocery shopping years later and “someone is looking at them weird and they have to wonder if that person has seen their child abuse photos or videos and recognizes them. Think about having to live with that for the rest of your life.”

        I sent an anonymous message to the AG’s office on this one. First of all, I don’t think the internet is 30 or 40 years old yet. Second, someone who had a pic taken of them when they were five is going to have a visceral feeling when someone sees that picture DECADES LATER? Third, this ‘eternal victimhood’ reminds me of Sandy’s other recent, outstanding article. And fourth, he’s saying that someone who has AGED three or four decades can be recognizable by a complete stranger who has only seen a picture of ‘me’ as a five-year-old? B-effing-S!

        Please contact me NARSOL. I will let you know who this poor excuse for an ‘educated’ person is so you can send him some materials!!!

    • #42155 Reply

      What we need is a law that protects us against State and Federal government from passing and interfering with offenders released from prisons after they serve their lawful sentence imposed by the government. I am so tired of “victims rights”advocates being given special right just because they are perceived by others as victims of some crime. Nobody in American has special rights. Our rights are supposed to be equal to all citizens in the US. I am so fed up with this CRAP! Bild a bridge, cry a river and get over it!

      • #42181 Reply

        I agree Tim.

        I would love for all of us to send message back to #MeTOO ——> with #GetOverIt.

        I have lost all respect for professional victims!!

        • #42217 Reply

          I’ve just recently heard that Sylvester Stallone is now being accused of some sort of unconenting sexual incident that apparently happened in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

          #metoo can go screw!

          Welcome to the downfall of western civilization. As long as we can destroy men, at least one political party will be thrilled. And they know who they are.

    • #42162 Reply

      Thank you Sandy, and all others involved with standing up for this man. You would think that 40 years would be enough time served. Good Job!

    • #42168 Reply

      When you stop and think for a moment that this man was convicted for only 2 offenses because that’s what he got caught for and then after the fact he admits to having raped countless others that he got away with, take a moment and imagine how (before he got caught, charged and convicted) no one knew any better about him as he freely lived his life, probably liked by his neighbors, colleagues and the local bagel shop employees (just threw that in there) while harboring this deep dark secret all along right under everyone’s noses.

      Now, imagine how many other FREE people with no criminal record are out there doing these types of crimes right under everyone’s noses and perhaps some of these people are the ones pretending they are goodie-two-shoes by protesting this man’s release and sending those death threats.
      So many men (yes, men) who are of the macho man mindset of “You better not touch MY daughter” are the ones touching someone else’s daughter, or even their own.

      Food for thought.

    • #42180 Reply
      Mike W

      Hi what i want to know is they say Pc.290 is not a punishment but what does pc of pc290 mean? Pc stands for penal code 290, penal is short for penalizing code which stands for punishing code in there own writing says it is a punishment and if u put someone on a registry means you believe they will do it again, then why let people out if there going to commit the same crime thats insanity and what happened with the whole process, you go to jail or prison for crime you committed you do your time because that said time is supposed to be rehabilitation if you are rehabilitated then why the registry if you are rehabilitated, there is a person (true story) who murdered both his parents did 32 years in prison n once off parole there’s no registry for him, that makes no common sense, first you get arrested go to jail or prison do your time plus either parole or probation and all crimes except S.O. are done n free but not S.O.’s what happened to equal rights n law is equal to all (except S.O.) what?

      • #42216 Reply


        To answer your question, it’s because we have conditioned ourselves to believe that sex, sexual intercourse and anything to do with sexual desires (regardless if they are deviant or not) is more dangerous to the public than murder.
        I suppose at this stage of the game, a person would rather be brutally tortured to death for not giving a burglar the combination to the home safe rather than be raped by the burglar and live to press charges. 🤷🏻‍♂️ That’s just one example of my take on why sex offenses are punished more than any other type of crime. Let’s not even get into the consenting under age teens. Oh what a danger you are if your state law is 17 but the girl who gladly consented to a sexual endeavor with you was only 16. She can’t possibly know what sex is but she is fully licensed to run you over with a motor vehicle. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    • #42184 Reply
      Irene Rubio

      It is Very Unconstitutional!! There are Judges whom already said Civil Commitment is Unconstitutional! These men have completed their Time and By Law have a Release Date! How By Law are they taken Back to Court and in Court the Judge and DA act like there was another Victim,but by the Damn Truth there is no Victim,They Bring Up the previous case and it’s told that Civil Commitment is Not Double Jeapardy….But it is! and it’s Happening in Conroe in 435th Court Where Judge Seiler was there doing Civil Commitment on these Men.When Does this Mess End!!! Its Bad enough the State Paid these Doctors to Evaluate these Men for up to an hour and with that the Doctor is Able to Say that these Men have a Mental Abnormality Behavior Issue! How does that Happen??? The Doctors are Getting Paid to Say what the State wants and these Men are being places in Little Field where they have the Secret Prison,We are in the United States and This Cannot Be Happening! CONGRESS AND SENATORS NEED TO STEP UP AND MAKE CHANGES…THESE MEN NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED AND EVALUATED FOR RELEASE! DUE TO CORRUPTED JUDGE/DA AND COURT APPT ATTORNEY NOT CORRECTLY REPRESENTING THESE MEN.

      • #42215 Reply
        totally against public registry

        Irene, I agree with you. I hear and feel your rage. I also can’t believe that 20 states in our country carry this kind of charade without any oversight. In the case of civil commitment, seems that the fox is guarding the henhouse. We just have to be vigilant- keep writing and keep showing up to voice our revolt for change!

    • #42185 Reply

      Sandy I want to thank you as the last comment I wrote on here really wasn’t approiate for this ses registry we are all involved in. I know judgement goes a long way.

      Is there life after civil confinement sure there is. Should we all clean up the swamp or just go by some psychologists of a person that can’t be rehiblitated. Change is what its all about but for a change one has to have a principal to use as a guideline if one wants to measure.

      It seems nobody understands what those on the sex registry go ethru. Sure life is not easy and in jail or prison its twice as worce so do you make the choice or the decision to go fly a kite or attach a key to the end of the electrical string. Sure we can all be the sex offender as Maestro said and yes we can all do wrong at times but I wonder why Rome fell to make Rome Great or to make America Great.

    • #42214 Reply

      I want to know if he really did expose himself to a nurse in the mental hospital recently, when he was nearing his release date.

      The fact that no other incidents of exhibitionism were noted on his record over the last 40 years in prison and in the mental hospital doesn’t prove that such incidents hadn’t happened. They are unlikely to be reported when the offender is a “lifer.” What are the authorities going to do… put him in prison? He’s already there! Declare him mentally unfit? He was already so declared!

      It’s only when a man is about to be released into society when the staff at a prison or mental hospital have any real reason to care about relatively minor offenses like flashing his genitals at the institution staff. No big deal when done in there. It’s a huge deal if he were to do that on the outside, at the county library or at his own front yard when the school bus passes by.

      So, I want this alleged new incident of sexual deviancy investigated. If he did that, keep him in. He’s not fit to release. If it’s a false accusation, then declare him innocent of that, affirm the prior finding that he’s sufficiently rehabilitated, and send him out into society.

    • #42226 Reply

      The key to all or a lot of this sex registry is civil commentment of the worst kind. A lot of this has to do with govermental abuse such as labeling, natural abuse such as the taking away kids from parents which is creating a storm. Not letting people into a free country as they might think they are here to corrept society. refusing right, conspiricy of some of these sex offender ordeals. I could go on and on and I’m sure some of you could also.

      Rome fell which was the greatest empire in the world because of corruption, polical power, and being overzealous in their beliefs. Sure we all look at this sex offender from the outside but we don’t look at it from the inside. Thats like looking at the outward man and giving him or her no chances. Just labeling them in society and have they cary a sign that said I will work for food. Where is any compassion or love thy neighbor in any of this. Crime is still gome to be crime or should we all say, I’m ashamed because I was naked. America needs to get back to principal to make anything great and stop abusing others for government self-esteem and pride.

      Now I have to agree with Sandy and a lot of you guys on this.

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