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Posts Tagged ‘Sexual Violent Predators’

AP: Locking Away Sex Offenders Stressing State Budgets

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

In these tough economic times, no expenditure is safe. And that even applies to locking up the most sexually predatory sex offenders, the topic of an Associated Press analysis piece published Monday.

Twenty states operate treatment facilities that keep sex offenders locked up indefinitely, including Washington — home to the nation’s first such program on McNeil Island. These so-called “sexual violent predators” haven’t committed a new crime, but under the Community Protection Act passed in 1990, they’re deemed too dangerous to risk having them on the streets.

But, as the AP found out, they’re expensive to keep locked up.

The AP said 5,200 sex offenders are in facilities, including on McNeil Island, at a price of around $500 million — about $96,000 per person. That’s a lot more than it costs to keep prison inmates locked up.

The story says such laws allowing the facilities were passed when budgets were bigger. And as Martiga Lohn writes:

“The programs have created a political quandary for lawmakers who desperately need to cut spending in the midst of a recession but don’t want to be seen as soft on rapists and child molesters.”

What do you think? Is it time to rethink spending all that money? Or are they simply too much of a risk in the community?


Supreme Court: Sex Offenders Can Be Held Indefinitely

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The US Supreme Court has upheld a 2006 law that allows for the federal government to imprison sex offenders beyond their sentences if they’re deemed “sexually dangerous.

Sound familiar? That’s because Washington was the vanguard in sex offender confinement with its passage of the Community Protection Act of 1990. That state law, along with creating a registration and community notification system for sex offenders, also set the stage for the state’s Special Confinement Center on McNeil Island — a place that holds those deemed “sexual violent predators,” indefinitely after they serve their prison time.

From what I’ve read, there isn’t that much different about the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and Washington state’s law. The federal Walsh Act allows a judge to determine if a person should be held past their sentence; our state law allows for a kind of jury trial to determine if they should be confined indefinitely.

But I think the US Supreme Court’s overwhelming 7-2 decision puts more weight behind the Washington state law.

Here’s part of the decision, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor:

“The statute is a ‘necessary and proper’ means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others,” Justice (Stephen) Breyer wrote.

But here’s what I see as the most important aspect. Like Washington state’s law, it seemed Breyer — and U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a supreme court nominee who argued the government’s position — believe sex offenders are as great a risk to public health as a disease outbreak.

From the Washington Post:

Kagan in January compared the government’s power to commit sexual predators to its power to quarantine federal inmates whose sentences have expired but have a highly contagious and deadly disease.

“Would anybody say that the federal government would not have Article I power to effect that kind of public safety measure? And the exact same thing is true here. This is exactly what Congress is doing here,” she said.

But not so fast, wrote Clarence Thomas, whose overarching fear seemed to be the idea of a national police force — an overreach by the federal government in his mind. From the Monitor:

“Protecting society from violent sexual offenders is certainly an important end,” Thomas wrote. “But the Constitution does not vest in Congress the authority to protect society from every bad act that might befall it.”


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