The Dobbs Wire: Liberty stolen. Legislators have created an extraordinary array of harsh laws for individuals convicted of sex offenses. Prison terms are commonplace while twenty states and the federal government go even farther with “civil commitment.” After paying the price, their prison time done and freedom near, some find themselves, instead, held indefinitely in locked facilities that may as well be prisons — not for what they did but for what the government’s “experts” say they might do. A reported 5,000 to 6,000 individuals are locked up on hunches.
Barbara Koeppel has a new article The Washington Spectator, have a look as she pulls the curtain back on civil commitment for sex offenses, following the money and more.
Koeppel’s expose raises a question. What about the professionals who helped create and operate these gulags, what are their responsibilities, what is their culpability? David Prescott is one of those professionals, have a look at his powerful essay, also below. –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire [email protected]
The Washington Spectator | June 4, 2019
Modern-Day Gulag In the Golden State
By Barbara Koeppel
Back in 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the practice known as civil commitment was legal. This meant that 20 states—which had passed laws permitting the ongoing incarceration of sex offenders—could continue to keep the men confined even after they completed their prison terms.
All it took (and still takes) is for two psychologists to claim the men might commit a new crime and a judge to say their cases can move forward. They are then labeled sexually violent predators (SVPs) and reincarcerated in prisonlike facilities until new trials are held—supposedly to determine if they will be civilly committed or released. The result? Some men have been waiting for their day in court for 15 to 20 years. In the meantime, many have died.
No matter that the men already served their prison time. Or that psychologists, psychiatrists and lawyers I interviewed insist that very few should be confined—that instead, the vast majority, many of whom are elderly or ill, should be let out.
Locking up sex offenders is always good politics, but it is also extraordinarily profitable. To document a system awash in double-talk and dollars, I interviewed 45 lawyers, psychologists, psychiatric technicians, rehabilitation therapists, nurses, journalists, prison reform advocates and civilly committed men over eight months. Nearly all feared retaliation and asked not to be named. MORE:
Forensic Psychologist | September 14, 2015
As courts censure civil detention practices, is it time for professionals to speak up?
by David S. Prescott
Excerpts: At what point do professionals in these settings openly acknowledge to them/ourselves that we are participating in systems that are openly unconstitutional and therefore unlawful according to the standards of much of the Western world? Even beyond American law, consider the case of Shawn Sullivan, who fled the US and was on Interpol’s most-wanted list. One of the UK’s highest courts denied a U.S. extradition request on the basis that Minnesota’s program to commit sex offenders indefinitely to treatment violates European human rights law. Lord Justice Alan Moses said returning Sullivan for trial with the possibility of later being placed in the sex offender system would be a “flagrant denial of his rights” under European law.
With that in mind, professionals might also want to ask at what point we are violating basic human rights when we render “treatment” that no one can ever complete.
As a profession, we have the research, the tools, and the templates to provide prompt and adequate treatment and to reduce the harm of sexual abuse, and yet we find ourselves in political climates where we cannot use them. At what point do we as individual professionals, or as professional organizations, take a stand against practices that are clearly not working to anyone’s long-term benefit? One need only look at the recent scandal of the American Psychological Association and its involvement with torture to see how collective inaction can ultimately bring disgrace to a profession. MORE: