Punishment Without Crime

⁦.⁦@MarkHerringVA⁩ has made exceptionally strong statements on ways to improve our criminal justice system. Civil commitment, however, is an area where Va law and enforcement is an injustice and a violation of civil rights. Here’s a prime example: https://t.co/7kVW1wDSIg — Patrick Hope (@HopeforVirginia) August 24, 2019     Philip Fornaci and Roger Lancaster followed up their Aug 24, 2019 WaPo article with the following message after the jury verdict, that we are including here as a preface.  Their message originally appeared on the ncrj web site: On October 17, 2019, after a two-week civil trial in Arlington County, Virginia, a…

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PUNISHMENT WITHOUT CRIME (long unedited version)

By Philip Fornaci and Roger Lancaster In a few weeks, the Circuit Court in liberal Arlington County, Virginia will be the scene of an aggressive morality play, with prosecutors seeking lifelong incarceration for a young gay man who has already paid an extraordinary price for youthful, nonviolent sexual indiscretions. With the support of a compliant judiciary, the Commonwealth of Virginia has repeatedly set aside legal, scientific, and commonsensical norms to target him for lifetime punishment as a violent sexual predator. Virginia, like 19 other states and the federal government, has a Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA). Under these laws, people…

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Punished Enough?

Downstate confronts questions that date to the time of Plato and the Old Testament: How ought we punish acts that are repugnant to society? Are there lawbreakers who are truly unforgivable? Are there offenses that demand perpetual condemnation, shunning, expulsion—banishment?   We once thought that we knew the answer to such riddles, at least in principle. For much of the twentieth century, jurists and lawmakers progressively tethered law to enlightened ideals: they eschewed punishment for the sake of punishment, embraced the idea of contingent redemption—rehabilitation—and imposed limits to punishment. But after the turmoil of the 1960s, American legal history diverged…

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