February 15, 2017

THE WAR ON MEN: Sex Offenders Are Still Locked up After Serving Their Time. Why?  Richard Bernstein in Real Clear Investigations reports on the troubling trend:

Some 20 states have civil commitment programs for people deemed sexually violent predators. Records show that more than 5,000 Americans are being held this way nationwide. Those numbers have roughly doubled over the previous decade or so, as judges, governors and state legislators have reacted to public concern about violent sexual crimes.

Civil confinement lies at the fraught intersection of crime, sex, and politics, in which sexual crimes, and just the possibility of sexual crimes, are treated differently from other offenses. Murderers, armed robbers, drunken hit-and-run drivers, insider traders, and other criminals are released when their prison sentences have been served.

States operating these programs defend them as necessary to protect the public, especially children, against dangerous sexual predators. The Supreme Court has upheld them, ruling that as long as they are narrowly tailored, with their “clients” subject to regular reviews, they serve a legitimate public interest in keeping potential dangerous offenders off the streets.

But critics of civil commitment argue that men are being locked away (and almost all of the detainees are men), often effectively for life, on the basis of subjective predictions of what a former sex offender might do in the future. They assert that this is a flagrant violation of the 14th Amendment’s requirement that no person shall be deprived of his freedom without “due process of law.”

Recidivism rates for sex offenders are typically lower than for people who commit other types of felonies. But statistics don’t matter when politicians and judges are trying to mollify the mob.

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