Inside NACDL: Sex Offender Laws Run Amok

When America’s politicians latch on to a “law and order” issue, watch out! Their capacity to demagogue an issue, exploit public fears, and enact draconian legislation is limitless. We saw this with the war on drugs1 and the war on terrorism. And now we see it with the proliferation of sex offender laws that impose far-reaching collateral consequences. They are often based on myth and emotion, unsupported by empirical research and broadly applied, and are indifferent to the facts of the particular case. Last month, The Champion reported that NACDL’s recent affiliate survey disclosed that 58 percent of the respondents…

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Going For Wins in Sexually Violent Predator Cases

By Allen Frances, MD July 8, 2011 During the past year, I have been involved as an expert witness for the defense in 14 SVP cases (tried in California, Washington, and Iowa). My role has been to clarify what is meant by the wording of the Paraphilia section in DSM-IV. And it certainly does badly need explaining. The DSM-IV Paraphilia section is written far too imprecisely to meet the high standard of precision needed in a legal context. This is because DSM-IV was written primarily for clinicians– not for lawyers, judges, forensic evaluators, and juries. I wish we had done…

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How many are held under “sex offender civil commitment” laws?

Data is important for advocacy.  But shadow prisons are so shrouded in secrecy that no one actually knows how many people are locked away in these “treatment” facilities in the U.S.  Here is a brief look at what we know (or don’t) and why the number that you often see cited is wrong.

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Civil Commitment in New York is Worse Than Prison

Shadow prisoners held for “treatment” at CNYPC in Marcy, NY experience conditions of confinment more explicitly punitive and restrictive than those in the actual prison system in New York. A new letter to state elected officials from people living behind the walls describes the desperation that pervades systems of pre-crime preventative detention in the U.S.  Ever wonder why we at Just Future use the term “shadow prisoners” to refer to people in so-called “sex offender civil commitment” facilities?  Read this letter.

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Letter from men at Central New York Psychiatric Center — effectively stand up for their rights and demand change

The shadow prisoners at the Gulag in Marcy, New York are formally demanding better treatment.  The following letter was sent by a committee of men who are organizing themselves at the Central New York Psychiatric Center.  Just Future applauds their concise articulation of concrete demands coupled with clear citations to the statutory language being violated.  This letter might serve as an example for the people in the other 20 systems of pre-crime preventative detention on how to effectively stand up for their rights and demand change. To: Director DEBORAH McCULLOCH c/o JEFFERY NOWICKI August 1, 2019 From: SOTP RESIDENT LIAISON…

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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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APA Opposes Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders After Prison

APA’s Board of Trustees approved a task force report on sexually dangerous offenders at its meeting last month in San Diego recommending that psychiatrists vigorously oppose sexual predator laws. Opposing such laws is necessary “to preserve the moral authority of the profession and ensure continuing societal confidence in the medical model of civil commitment,” states the report. The report was written by the Task Force on Sexually Dangerous Offenders, a component of APA’s Council on Psychiatry and Law, which endorsed the report before it went to the Board for action. Paul Appelbaum, M.D., was chair of the council when the…

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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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The Endless Punishment of Civil Commitment

The Endless Punishment of Civil Commitment By Guy Hamilton-Smith “Prosecutors can subject those convicted of sexual offense – and sometimes, those with no conviction at all – to an indefinite period of civil punishment at the end of their criminal sentence. In January, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Bianco ruled that after spending nearly two decades detained by the state of California without trial, George Vasquez was a free man. Unlike the 536,000 people held pretrial in the criminal justice system in America, Vasquez, 44, was not being held because he was accused of a crime. Instead, Vasquez…

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