State cannot continue incarceration without sufficient evidence

By Christian M. Wade . . . BOSTON — More than 120 “dangerous” sex offenders have been released under a 2008 Supreme Judicial Court ruling that keeps them from being locked up if at least two “qualified medical examiners” determine they’re no longer a threat, according to state data.

The state Department of Correction currently oversees about 130 sexually dangerous prisoners held under civil commitments. Most are housed at a medium security treatment center at the Bridgewater Correctional Complex.

From 2009 to Oct. 1, 2020, at least 123 individuals were released from the program because the state lacked “sufficient evidence” under the SJC’s ruling to keep them locked up, according to state records.

Another 75 individuals were discharged after a jury determined that they were no longer sexually dangerous.

Details about the cases were not available, and it isn’t clear from Department of Correction records if the individuals were set free or transferred to other facilities.

The SJC’s 2008 ruling that called for their release involved convicted child rapist George Johnstone, of Fall River, who pleaded guilty in 1992 to two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

Johnstone was sent to prison for 10 years. Afterward his sentence was complete, he was held under the state’s civil commitment law, which allows for the jailing of sex offenders deemed to be a public danger, and required to undergo sex offender treatment.

Johnstone petitioned for release in 2003, and the case went to trial three years later.

Two medical examiners testified that Johnstone was no longer sexually dangerous. The high court rejected an argument by the state that he should be held anyway, saying it lacked the expert testimony needed to keep him locked up.

In doing so, the SJC set a precedent that the state must have testimony from at least one examiner saying someone is sexually dangerous in order to prompt a trial to determine if that person continues to be held.

Read the rest of the piece here at The Eagle Tribune.

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    • #83201 Reply


      Funny how drug offenders (users and dealers) are constantly portrayed as being in need of “treatment” as opposed to re-incarceration, yet none of them are referred to these not-a-prison “treatment facilities” despite repeatedly and consistently doing exactly what landed them in the criminal justice system in the first place.

    • #83262 Reply

      Tim in WI

      The fact is he was re- incarcerated before a jury & civil trial, and without due process.
      “He filed in 2003 for decisions three years later.” They ( prosecutors ) do not necessarily need real evidence to convict in America. Accusations and innuendo are enough.

      • #83938 Reply


        We can’t keep electing the same people or the same mindset into office and expect anything to change. To change who gets elected, the perception of the public at large will have to undergo a major overhaul.

        One thing to consider: sexual misconduct of any kind has become the handiest political bludgeon in the arsenal. The accusation equals the conviction. Especially in the court of public opinion.

    • #83341 Reply

      A Mistake They Made

      Imagine that! The State having to prove something before doing harm to a citizen. Seems i read this somewhere before why was this even a question? Ya Ya the government thinks there is a magic word called public safety that trumps the constitution whenever convenient.

      • #83939 Reply


        The state can go outside the law and cherry pick any “expert” to say exactly what they want. Look at the case of Galen. I don’t know his last name, but Brenda knows who I’m referring to. The prosecutor couldn’t get any of their usual go-to experts to deem him a predator for purposes of civil commitment, so He went outside the normal legal channels to get a hack who would say exactly what he wanted, all the while the court blocked every bit of expert testimony Galen had that proved he was not a proper candidate for SVP designation and civil commitment.

        He was his own worst enemy by communicating with a minor when he knew it was forbidden, but this was a clear and blatant, egregious case of the state slapping him upside the head for speaking out against their sham of a SVP commitment program. He made the state look bad for this practice and they did whatever they wanted to pay him back and exact some retribution.

        In far, far too many instances, local courts with elected judges who are more worried about their own political ambitions and popularity than they are about serving up true justice. Out off all the suits filed to challenge these blatant injustices, how many have to get appealed to the federal level before a proper ruling is made?

    • #83383 Reply

      David Lee Sturtz

      I still do not understand how any court, let alone the US Supreme count can say that registration is not a punishment. Using that logic you say it safer to leave all convicted felons in prison indefinitely and state that prison is not really a punishment. Redefine punishment and you can do anything to anyone.

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