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…

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Civil commitment: Treatment or extended punishment?

By J.D. Tuccille . . . Sold as a means of giving potentially dangerous sex offenders treatment for their conditions while indefinitely confining them, civil commitment programs invite skepticism about their motivation and effectiveness. While courts have signed off on the practice, keeping people locked up after they’ve served their prison sentences raises sticky legal and ethical questions. Now a…

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Eighth Circuit decision opens path to continued constitutional challenge of MN sex offender program

By Chris Serres . . . A protracted case challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota’s system for treating sex offenders outside prison has gained new life after a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that claims contesting the program’s unusual conditions of confinement can move forward. In a decision released Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals…

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Civil Commitment Pretends Prisoners Are Patients

By Jacob Sullum . . .  “It was my understanding that I was to do the treatment, then be released,” says Mike Whipple, who recently participated in a 14-day hunger strike at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program’s facility in Moose Lake. “Twelve years later, I’m still here, doing the same thing, over and over and over.” So far the civil…

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The hidden truth that could end civil commitment

By Steve 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…

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Virginia’s problems with its civil commitment program: too many to count

By Patrick Hope . . . The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” era of criminal justice is over. Virginians have reassessed their views on criminal justice to better address mass incarceration weighed against costs and the likelihood to reoffend. Policies ripe for reform include: resentencing prisoners who were convicted as youth; repealing mandatory minimums; legalizing marijuana; abolishing…

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A case against civil commitment

Reposted from August 14, 2018 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…

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