Reporter investigates the harsh realities of civil commitment

Investigative reporter Barbara Koeppel takes a critical look at the practice of civil commitment in the United States in a report for the Washington Spectator. The introduction to the article calls civil commitment “the third rail of the criminal justice system.”Organizations and professionals familiar with the abuses of civil commitment are its harshest critics. The […]

Iowa court rules two men can’t be held in civil commitment

The Iowa Supreme Court struck a blow against Iowa’s civil commitment program, ruling that the state couldn’t hold two men indefinitely past their court-mandated sentences.Here are a couple key quotes from the Associated Press article.”Preventive detention is very limited in American law because it is seen as antithetical to fundamental liberty interests and the presumption of […]

How Texas created a prison that’s not a prison

The Texas Observer has a story on that state’s new civil commitment facility — a repurposed, privately-run prison in Littlefield, Texas, that the state really, REALLY, doesn’t want you to call a prison. Once inside those old prison walls, the men surrendered their IDs, Social Security cards, birth certificates and credit cards, along with cash and […]

Sex offenders sue Minnesota city over restrictions

Cities that pass Draconian sex offender ordinances that amount to banishment should expect to be challenged, as is the case with the city of Dayton, Minnesota, which is being sued by three registered sex offenders who say the city’s ordinance is unconstitutional.The men are challenging a far-reaching 2016 ordinance that bars convicted sex offenders from living within […]

Justice Department examining NY civil commitment of SO’s

The U.S. Department of Justice is examining New York’s civil commitment program for sex offenders, according to a report in the Albany Times-Union. The paper says the investigation was started after a Justice Department attorney spoke with a man confined at the Central New York Psychiatric Center. Interviews the paper conducted with men confined there […]

Nebraska spends more than $50 million annually for civil commitment

That total is from a Nebraska Legislative Fiscal Office memo, sent in response to a request for information on the costs to maintain the civil commitment programs at the Lincoln Regional Center and Norfolk Regional Center. The total costs amount to nearly $37 million at the LRC and more than $13.6 million in Norfolk, and […]

Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Minnesota sex offender case

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to Minnesota’s sex offender civil commitment program. The decision leaves open the question whether Minnesota politicians will make needed, and promised reforms to the program. While state leaders vowed to continue making changes to the program, others noted that pressure from the court to do so is […]

Supreme Court could decide future of civil commitment

The Supreme Court will decide this week whether to take up a case challenging Minnesota’s Sex Offender Treatment (civil commitment) Program. Maurice Chammah reports in an article for the Marshall Project.If someone finishes a prison sentence for a violent sexual crime, but might still be dangerous, should he be released? How do you know if he’s […]

Missouri Supreme Court backs civil commitment

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the state’s program that allows for the indefinite detention of sex offenders. The 6-0 decision, in separate cases involving two men, is reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.A public defender for the men had argued their commitments were punitive, meant lifetime confinement and amounted to second punishments after they […]

Cato: Even sex offenders have constitutional rights

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled North Carolina’s law banning registered sex offenders from social media cites unconstitutional, the Cato Institute says the Court should take up a challenge to Minnesota’s civil commitment program.In 1994, Minnesota passed what has become arguably the most aggressive and restrictive sex-offender civil-commitment statute in the country. The Minnesota […]