Lawsuit, Ballot Initiative Seek to Reform Felon Disenfranchisement in Florida | Prison Legal News

In 1868, in response to the abolition of slavery following the Civil War (except for prisoners), Florida enshrined in its constitution the permanent disenfranchisement of people convicted of a felony.  The deprivation of felons’ voting rights was combined with Black Codes that criminalized offenses state lawmakers believed were mostly committed by blacks, as a means of sending freed slaves to prison and ensuring they could not vote. While the civil rights movement helped to change racial attitudes, Florida has held strong to its disenfranchisement policy.  It is one of only four states, the others being Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia, to…

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How We Plan to Create Change

We are committed to creating lasting change.  Read on for a crash course in how we plan to make a difference.  If there were an Official Underground Handbook for Just Future Project, this would be the “Introduction”. BACKGROUND Indefinite detention laws may seem entrenched and unmovable, but in reality they remain a relatively new area of law that continues to be deeply controversial and vulnerable to attack.  The American Psychiatric Association has categorically opposed so-called “sex offender civil commitment” programs since 1999, calling them a “misuse of psychiatry” and a subversion of the “medical model of civil commitment.”  Even the…

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Our Deeply Flawed Civil Commitment System | Cato Institute

David Prescott acknowledges that sexual offender civil commitment has many inherent problems. If we’re going to lock someone up, we must be sure that it’s for a good reason. Yet even by these programs’ stated rationales, governments might do better with a less restrictive means of treatment. Surprisingly, this appears true even for high-risk offenders. Many who are so committed could and should live better lives in the community, and not in a confining institution, and yet this option rarely exists. Release rates are also shockingly low. A genuine prospect of release would do much to help the morale of…

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Texas Uses Failed Private Prison to Hold Civilly Committed Sex Offenders | Prison Legal News

In 2015, Texas converted its outpatient program for civilly committed sex offenders into a “tiered” treatment program, in which participants start out in a “total confinement facility” at twice the cost of the original program. The state awarded Correct Care Solutions a $24 million contract to provide housing and treatment at the Texas Civil Commitment Center (TCCC) in Littlefield, formerly a failed private prison known as the Bill Clayton Detention Facility. Correct Care had just acquired GEO Care, a subsidiary of the GEO Group – a for-profit prison firm whose 2009 abandonment of the Littlefield facility had almost forced the…

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The Rise of the Preventative State | Cato Institute

Pre-crime isn’t science fiction, says Eric Janus. It’s our system of civil commitment. The problems are simply stated: Civil commitment moves from punishing a specific act toward punishing a type of person. This approach to justice rarely works out in practice, as members of marginalized groups typically find that they can’t possibly clear their own names. One result is bad public policy about sexual violence, because evidence-based treatment for the sexually violent is disfavored in comparison to simply punishing them for the next crime it’s thought they might commit. The rule of law suffers as well, because of the highly…

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Let’s Stamp Out Perversion | Cato Institute

Amanda Pustilnik draws a sharp contrast between civil commitment as it is practiced for the severely mentally ill — and the utterly different system that has been imposed on sex offenders. The latter system she terms “a perversion,” one that both destroys civil liberties and stigmatizes the treatment of genuinely mentally ill individuals. Genuine civil commitment for the mentally ill does exist, but it is used only in emergencies, it is of very limited duration, and its judicial process puts the patient’s best interests first. Meanwhile, sexual violence remains a genuine and pressing social problem, but it does not take…

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Our Deeply Flawed Civil Commitment System | Cato Institute

The inherent problems in sexual offender civil commitment should concern all citizens. Mr. Baughman’s article addresses a number of concerns worthy of exploration. There is no question that some sex offenders are truly dangerous and that the public is understandably concerned. As currently practiced, however, civil commitment rarely delivers on erstwhile promises of either public safety or rehabilitation. This is despite the often well-intentioned staff members of these facilities. The author’s position is that if society is to employ civil commitment, we need to do so in accordance with the highest scientific standards and free of political pressure. We are not…

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Bad Deals: Look What Happens When an Innocent Man is Labeled a “Sexually Violent Predator” | Reveal News

On a stifling afternoon in the summer of 1996, Rodney Roberts pleaded guilty to a kidnapping. He had never met the victim, let alone held her against her will. Yet this is what he told the judge in the cramped Essex County courtroom. His court-appointed defender had convinced him his other choice was life in prison. The state of New Jersey, Roberts was told, had overwhelming evidence that he had raped an East Orange teenager. Plead guilty to the lesser charge of kidnapping, he remembers public defender Charles Martone saying through the bars of the court’s packed holding cell, and…

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New Rules Spark Uprising at California Pre-Crime Facility | Prison Legal News

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that persons held in involuntary psychiatric commitment facilities are not prisoners and cannot be subjected to punitive treatment. Matt Clarke at Prison Legal News paints a vivid portrait of how prison-like these not-a-prison prisons really are. Protests met California officials when they began to make Coalinga State Hospital look even more like a prison.  On January 14, 2018, about 400 to 500 civilly committed sex offender “patients” met in the common area of California’s Coalinga State Hospital to protest a stringent new rule that went into effect that day.  The rule banned the possession of…

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When Junk Science About People Labeled “Sex Offenders” Infects the Supreme Court | NYT Op-Doc

American criminal justice policy for sex-related crimes is built on a myth.  The U.S. Supreme Court green lighted draconian restrictions that relegate persons with former sex-related convictions to a permanent pariah status based on the erroneous findings that they commit new crimes at an astronomical rate.  Watch filmmaker, lawyer, activist David Feige unravel this “frightening and high” myth in a compelling NYT OP-doc.  “A ‘Frightening’ Myth About Sex Offenders” by David Feige. This month the Supreme Court will have a rare opportunity to correct a flawed doctrine that for the past two decades has relied on junk social science to justify…

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