For sex crimes, prison conditions extend beyond prison walls

By Roger Lancaster . . . The criminal justice reform bill, hopefully dubbed the First Step Act, represents a real accomplishment — a positive development in otherwise conservative times. It is all the more remarkable that a reactionary president, who ran a tough-on-crime campaign, is now poised to sign the bill. But let’s not overstate matters. The bill essentially tweaks an otherwise…

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NARSOL condemns civil commitment practices

By NARSOL . . . In view of recent developments in the case of Galen Baughman in Virginia, NARSOL restates its unequivocal opposition to the civil commitment process occurring in at least twenty states and in the federal system. Paul Shannon, NARSOL’s board chair, states, “NARSOL opposes the practice of civilly committing sexual offenders to a locked facility after they…

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How Big Money Stymies S.O. Reform

By Michael M . . . When SORNA (Sex Offender Registration Notification Act, aka Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006) required the states to establish comprehensive minimum standards for their state sex offender registries, it created an unfunded mandate that left many states scrambling to comply or lose Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding…

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NARSOL’s chairman to give testimony against civil commitment, mandatory minimums

By Sandy . . . In this piece I presented the situation of Wayne Chapman, a convicted sexual offender in Massachusetts who is due to be released from a ten-year term of civil commitment that he served following the thirty-year prison sentence that he served for his crime. In response to this situation, the governor of Massachusetts is proposing what…

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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…

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Locked up for what you might do: the Good Lives Model perverted

By Michael M. . . . Imagine what it would be like to be Jason Schoenfeld, a disabled military veteran who was convicted of aggravated assault of a child, sent to prison for 18 years, and then released at the end of his term to a halfway house in Houston, Texas. At the halfway house, he stayed in relatively comfortable…

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Is civil commitment protection, punishment, prison–or purgatory?

By Maurice Chammah…. If someone finishes a prison sentence for a violent sexual crime, but might still be dangerous, should he be released? How do you know if he’s dangerous? And when does it violate his rights to hold him? On Monday, the Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case that stems from these questions, a challenge to…

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Improvement in media’s message portends favorably for future

The past decade has seen amazing changes in the dialogue that is developing around the issue of sexual offenses. Ten years ago, the facts surrounding risk, re-offense rates, and the effectiveness of treatment were written about only by researchers doing the studies. Mainstream media was focused on the hype, the myths, and the rare horror stories and totally ignored the…

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8th Circuit’s ruling threatens civil liberties of all Americans

By Noah Feldman . . . In a major blow to civil liberties, an appeals court has upheld the Minnesota system that civilly commits sex offenders after they’ve served their prison terms, a confinement from which no one has ever been fully released. The decision, filed Tuesday, used the wrong legal standard, making it too easy for the state to…

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