Homophobic Outrage in Virginia

Last month, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) succeeded in his aim of incarcerating a gay man indefinitely for sending text messages. AG Herring maintains the man – who has never been accused or arrested for any act of violence – is a “Sexually Violent Predator.” Virgina’s treatment of Galen Baughman, now 36,has attracted protests from LGBT and criminal-justice groups, and at least one Virginia lawmaker. His case highlights the dangers of Orwellian civil-commitment laws that allow indefinite confinement of people to prevent possible future offenses.

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Some Virginia sex offenders held long after sentence up

By Dena Potter, Associated Press Nov 19, 2011, 12:15pm RICHMOND, Va. — Having already served their sentences, hundreds of Virginia sex offenders are held behind bars for months — some for years — while waiting to see whether they’ll be sent to a psychiatric center indefinitely, an Associated Press review has found. Judges acting on the requests of both prosecutors and defense attorneys routinely shrug off the legal deadline for making that decision, leaving the inmates in limbo well beyond their designated punishment and without access to the very kind of treatment the state says they may need. Attorneys and…

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Update on the Galen Baughman Civil Commitment trial

by Charlie Clark, September 4, 2019 5:27 PM Our Man in Arlington. A culture-clash of a trial will resume in late September in Arlington Circuit Court. The scantly reported-on civil procedure involves the disturbing topic of predatory sexual behavior and the Virginia laws intended to protect potential victims. The trial, preliminaries for which I attended Aug. 26, involves an Arlington family eager to spring a son from an open-ended incarceration they feel the state is pursuing to make a statement against a gay man. Galen Baughman, 35, a graduate of H-B Woodlawn Secondary program who studied opera at Indiana University,…

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Patrick Hope column: Virginia’s sexually violent predator laws have gone too far

By: Patrick Hope Sept 29, 2019 The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” era of criminal justice is over. Virginians have reassessed their views on criminal justice to better address mass incarceration weighed against costs and the likelihood to reoffend. Policies ripe for reform include: resentencing prisoners who were convicted as youth; repealing mandatory minimums; legalizing marijuana; abolishing the death penalty; ending solitary; reinstating parole; ending cash bail; and creating alternatives to incarceration. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has a strong track record of criminal justice reform. But there’s one enforcement aspect his office needs to re-examine: the…

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Sex Offenders Locked Up on a Hunch

The essence of the American criminal justice system is reactive, not predictive: You are punished for the crime you committed. You can’t be punished simply because you might commit one someday. You certainly can’t be held indefinitely to prevent that possibility. And yet that is exactly what is happening to about 5,000 people convicted of sex crimes around the country. This population, which nearly doubled in the last decade, has completed prison sentences but remains held in what is deceptively called civil commitment — the practice of keeping someone locked up in an institution for months, years or even decades for…

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Prominent voices chime in on Twitter

Lots of folks are talking about the abusive, homophobic, and blatantly unconstitutional use of pre-crime preventative detention laws in Virginia. Here we have aggregated some prominent voices expressing their outrage on Twitter. ⁦.⁦@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 All the power to you for trying to undo this great injustice https://t.co/SPw4aKEkWr — Arax (@araxkl_arax) September 20, 2019 Another injustice. Help…

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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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