Confession of Moral Bankruptcy
State and local governments are both challenged by the problems of sexual predators. This issue has been addressed at the federal level for many years, but now state and local governments are being given the responsibility to change policy. What this paper will examine are three major issues. This paper will examine what state and local governments are doing in context to the civil commitment issue. Secondly, once sexual predators are given the opportunity to return to society there is always the fear that they will commit crimes again. Therefore, all fifty states have some form of a sexual predator registry. Third, states and communities are beginning ...view middle of the document...
The FBI estimates that there is a sex offender living in every square mile of the United States. Most child molesters are able to molest dozens of children before they are caught and only have a three percent chance of being apprehended for their crimes. 22% of sexual predators assault an average of seven victims before they are caught and convicted (Jenson, 2002, pg. 1). Presently, state and local governments are fighting to better serve communities with regulations and laws preventing sexual predators from being released from prison once they have just served their sentences. States are pushing for predators to be returned to the communities only when mental health professionals believe they are stable enough to be released back into society. Laws are being passed so that sexual offenders can be involuntarily committed for an indefinite period of time if they meet the mental health criteria of a diagnosis of a mental abnormality or personal disorder.
Starting in 1990, Washington state passed the first sex offender civil commitment law. Soon after Washington, Kansas state law began a trend that keeps sex offenders off the streets after they have completed their terms in prison. Sexual predators are now being civilly committed in sixteen states and thirty-four are working within their local legislative bodies to sanction the law (Meyer, 2003, pg. 397). The case that decided this motion was Kansas v. Hendricks. It took approximately two to three years before it passed in 1994. Kansas defines a sexual violent predator as “any person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers for a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in the
predatory acts of sexual violence” ( Teir, 1997, pg. 6). This definition of a sexual predator has been carried from state to state and even reached the Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks.
Kansas’ law sets up a multistep process to review the cases of sex offenders before their release by two separate panels and a judge. Psychological evaluations are made and then, a twelve member jury must unanimously decide that the defender has a mental abnormality or personality disorder-not a mental illness- that makes him likely to commit rape, sodomy, sexual battery or other sexual offenses if set free. These inmates are entitled to legal counsel and the assistance of a mental health worker before the jury and while confined. There are no time limits on how long they may be committed, but each and every individual must be reevaluated yearly (Gordon, 1998, pg. 3).
Even though it has been criticized, Kansas’ law has not been used in abundance. There have been 618 sex offenders reviewed under the law, but only nine are being held in Kansas mental institutions. The judgment that is used by the panels and judges in all cases is overwhelming dangerousness. Clear and credible statements made by the sexual predator, once convicted, help to prove...