His Research Was Destroyed After He Found Indefinite Detention Wasn’t Working.

STEVEN YODER — 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 California law authorizing “civil commitment” of people who have been convicted of sex offenses, a practice that keeps them confined long after they have completed their sentences.

Seven years after McCurdy was committed, his lawyer, Jim McEntee, was trying to persuade a judge that his client was a low risk to reoffend. If he failed, McCurdy would be confined at the hospital indefinitely. Fortunately, the lawyer had heard of evidence that might tip the scales: a study done at Atascadero itself that could help his client.

McEntee called as a witness Jesus Padilla, one of Atascadero’s psychologists. Padilla was four years into a study of ex-offenders classified as SVPs who had been released on technical grounds. Padilla had tracked them to find out their recidivism rates, which he presumed would be high.

The recidivism rate that Padilla found for SVPs did not square with the 1995 law that created the program, which had called the people it targeted a “small but extremely dangerous [group of] sexually violent predators.” In short, the study called into question the legitimacy of the entire $270-million-a-year civil commitment program.

Shortly after his testimony, Padilla’s study was abruptly terminated. His records were confiscated, his hard copies were shredded, and he was forbidden to talk about his work. At first he pushed back and even tried to continue on his own. But as he explained in 2009, “It’s too hard to fight the system, you know.” In 2013, Padilla died of stomach cancer, his research unfinished. The whole incident might have been forgotten, if not for the work of law professors Tamara Rice Lave and Franklin Zimring, who excavated Padilla’s work in a 2018 American Criminal Law Review article and brought to light the ways in which the state tried to ensure that knowledge of it would die with him.

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    • #70559 Reply
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      Off the Grid

      A real linchpin in all of this charades that is called ‘law’ today is the language they get away with (but shouldn’t). SVP is a legal term, not medical, not clinical, not a diagnosed condition of being. But, they will probably remedy that in the near future – (sarcasm) – with a concurrent medical diagnosis resembling the abhorrent language the law uses.
      Reminds me of that poor chap (in Louisiana or Mississippi – don’t recall) who was charged with ‘sexual battery of a minor female’ then allowed by the guards to be beaten to death by the other inmates. Just charged, arrested, and detained in jail, then killed before any court heard anything.

      Yes, ‘sexual battery of a minor female’ sounds very dramatic and horrid. But, what exact behaviors and actions qualify for that horrid label? All sorts of things I’m sure. What about disciplining your female child with an open hand spank on the clothed bottom? That would qualify I’ll bet, if she gets the urge to retaliate with the power of the state at her disposal simply because she didn’t like to be spanked.

      I say the ‘law enforcement apparatus’ – the legislature, the courts, the prison guards, the police – are all guilty of these murders of men by the language they use when charging and labeling ‘criminals.’ I say they are guilty of the non-existence of my children. Meaning I am mortally frightened of the idea of being close to a woman or female minors. In this cursed misandric nightmare of a society we are living in, any woman or girl can be a little ‘off’ mentally and that is a land mine for a man to be anywhere near. Not worth the risk. The juice is not worth the squeeze. Women are like full blown, under-cover narcissist psychopaths and are encouraged and allowed to be that way.

      Lawyers should be disqualified, simply by reason of obvious conflict of interest, from holding public office. PERIOD. That would be a sign of an advancing society. Otherwise we remain slaves to the system poor Jesus Padilla came up against as David against Goliath.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the stomach cancer was a result of his being targeted for destruction. Even though Padilla wasn’t exactly our ‘guy in the corner’ he did seem to want to justify his career with finding facts to back up the alleged purposes of civil commitment. He was one of ‘them’ that turned on ‘them’ by pursuing truth and facts.

      They don’t like the truth when the truth threatens their bank account. De Morales says that is bogus idea – I disagree. Facts back me up, not him.

    • #70634 Reply
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      The Criminalized Man

      I’ll second that, ‘Grid: “Lawyers should be disqualified, simply by reason of obvious conflict of interest, from holding public office.” – Though I’d narrow that to legislative office. Vague laws are a gold mine for those who make money by arguing what they mean.

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