SAGE Journal Articles

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LO 18-4

The United States Supreme Court And The Civil Commitment Of Sex Offenders
Description: Utah passes bill to reinstate execution by firing squad

Abstract: In Minnesota ex rel. Pearson v. Probate County of Ramsey County, Kansas v. Hendricks, Seling v. Young, and Kansas v. Crane, the U.S. Supreme Court decided cases pertaining to civil commitment of sex offenders to mental institutions. At first, the earliest case involved whether an offender, classified as a psychopathic personality, could be committed from the streets to a mental institution. More contemporary cases posed the question of whether a prisoner, diagnosed as a violent sexual predator or having an antisocial personality disorder, could be civilly committed to a mental health facility after this prisoner had served his entire sentence and was about to be released. For both questions, the Court answered in the affirmative. The Court’s rulings that incarcerated sex offenders nearing release may be civilly committed to a mental health facility have potentially ominous implications for both mental health and criminal justice policy.