Civil Committment of Sexual Offenders

Minnesota allows for civil commitment of sex offenders who have completed their jail terms, a provision that has been made in the Minnesota Commitment Act. The act reasons that civil commitment of sex offenders is a necessary measure to prevent dangerous sexual offences from occurring in the future (Barnickol, 2001). In California, civil commitment fro sex offenders is allowed under the Sexually Violent Predator Law. The provisions of the commitment law for sex offenders in California are the same as in Kansas and Minnesota. Other States that have adopted civil commitment laws for sex offenders who are deemed dangerous include: Washington, Missouri, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Iowa (McCaffrey, 1994). One of the similarities that stand out in many of the sex offenders’ civil commitment laws in different states is the requirement that a criminal is likely to pose sexual offense danger to other people after he is released at the end of his jail term. The laws seek to have violent sex predators who have some form of mental abnormality to be committed to involuntarily and indefinitely to appropriate facilities for treatment. The laws also require that such offenders must have completed their jail sentences. Although all the civil commitment laws in states that have adopted are largely similar, there are a few differences that exist. For instance, in the Texas legislation of civil commitment, a criminal is liable to commitment if he is found to have behavioral abnormality. This is different from the mental abnormality mentioned in other similar legislations (Prentky, Janus, and Barbaree, 2006). Different states have also taken different approaches in the management of civilly committed sexual offender populations. Florida for example, requires the offenders to be committed to be assessed by a qualified team so as to determine if they are sexually violent predators. The evaluation process is a civil proceeding after which those offenders found to meet the criteria are kept under watch at the Florida Civil Commitment Center together with other detainees who are still awaiting similar civil trials (McCaffrey, 1994). In Washington, evaluation of an offender’s state of mind is done by a Joint Forensic Unit whose members are forensic experts who deal specifically with risk evaluations related to sex offence. If the offender is fond to meet all the legal requirements for civil commitment, the King County Prosecutor’s Office or the Attorney General’s office then files a petition and a hearing is scheduled within 72 hours. If the superior court finds the offender to be a suitable candidate for a civil commitment trial, he is taken to the DSHS Special Commitment Center located on McNeil Island. During the trial, the jury or judge must determine without doubt that the offender is a sexually violent predator before he is transferred to a Secure Community Transition Facility (LaFond and Winick, 2003). Similar civil or court hearings are scheduled for each offender who is regarded to have mental abnormality which makes him a danger to others in all the states where civil commitment for sexual predators has been legalized. After they are committed in specialized facilities, the sexual predators receive special treatment for a specified period to make them better members of society after which they are released to carry on with normal life. Costs vs.

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