By | May 18, 2010 28 Comments

Supreme Court upholds law to keep sex offenders in jail

In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which established a civil commitment procedure to keep dangerous federal sex offenders behind bars after their sentences were complete. Some inmates challenged the law, stating that Congress had exceeded its powers, and it was overturned by a federal appeals court. Now, the Supreme Court has reversed that decision and upheld the law.

Read Supreme Court upholds federal sex offender law on the Christian Science Monitor.

Posted in: Laws and courts

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Ox Drover

This is a START, but notice that it ONLY applies to FEDERAL criminals, and most rapists and sex offenders are not charged under federal laws, but under state laws—unless they take a person ACROSS A STATE LINE or some other violation of “federal” laws.

I do hope, however, that STATEs follow this lead in the civil commitment of dangerous sexual offenders as well.

The BEST thing about this law is that it is a START in recognizing that some people are just too dangerous to turn loose on the world!~ TOWANDA!!!!!


Ox I wonder if one day they will extend it to psychopaths just because….. The relationship to sex – well- it goes in the direction….
I wonder if indeed it might affect anyone I know?


For those interested here is a link to the complete court decision

Of course the UK has something similar to this already in place and running called the DSPD program (which also includes psychopaths). It was launched in 1999 and has cost an estimated 200 million pounds but they are considering ending the program because the program has been ineffective and has had a very high rate of false positives.

I think that the same may happen here as well. The actuarials commonly used are in question of just how effective they really are. For example if you remember Anthony Sowell he scored a low 1 on the Static-99 yet now he is accused of killing 11 women. (you can see his assessment here;contentBody). John Gardner III scored a 2 on the Static-99.

It is extremely difficult to try to pick out these kind of people because of the problem of low base rates. If you only have one sex offender out of ten who is paroled who will re-offend it is difficult to pick out that one and it is even harder, I would say next to impossible, to pick out those who commit the really rare crimes like Sowell’s and Gardners.

The majority of people arrested for sexual offenses are never rearrested for another sexual offense. (which does not mean they did not reoffend) and the majority of sexual offenses are committed by people who have never been caught before. To catch them would entail huge over-prediction which would result in a massive amount of false positives.

Rather than pouring money into the back end after the crimes have happened i would hope we would pour more money and resources into the front end of prevention programs that actually do help to reduce crime.

Sadly bad things happen in life and we can’t predict or prevent them all from happening.


I’ll say it, again: Spath Island………

Elizabeth Conley

That’s not all the Supreme Court did lately. They also ruled that life imprisonment for juvenile offenders was “cruel and unusual” punishment.

I thought they showed great wisdom.

I do think it’s wrong to seal juvenile records. I think those adults whose behavior mirrors their youthful offenses should have those earlier offenses included in their criminal records. We’ll see if that ever happens.


Elizabeth, I agree – some of the juvenile records relate directly to ADULT crimes. If the “system” had access to this information, appropriate sentencing would be easier to hand down. At 18, most juvenile records are automatically expunged in most States. This means that the 15 year old who presented a history of sociopathic crimes is a first-time offender when they’re charged with an adult crime.

Ox Drover

Dear Elizabheth,

Well, as much as I respect you and your opinions, personally I DISAGREE with you about not allowing life WITHOUT PAROLE for juviniles who are not convicted of killing.

There are things WORSE than killling, so therefore a kid age 17 yrs and 364 days who rapes and mutilates 10 women/girls but none of whom actually DIE cannot be kept in prison for “life without parole” but must instead be given a “reasonable chance for parole” ???????

I also disagree with the law that says a criminal’s record of 27 previous rapes can’t be brought up at his rape trial either….might “prejudice” the jury? BULL HOCKEY!!!!!


Previous criminal history should be MANDATORY when courts are forced to try such cases. Without a frame of reference, how can they make a reasonable decision about consequences?

Life without parole………Spath Island, I say. It’s an attempt at gallows humor, but I honestly DO feel that it’s a viable solution for these predators.

Ox Drover

Dear BHlogger,

Thanks for posting your usual bevy of INFORMATION, which is of course always valid and informative! The “assessment” tool they were using, though, didn’t seem to me to be all that “great” (just off the top of my head) in picking out the ones that will reoffend/get caught reoffending.

So, if only 1 in ten previously prosecuted sex offenders (gets caught) reoffending, what is the answer? Why does the country bother then with registering sex offenders at all. According to the registration agency here in Arkansas they INITIALLY REGISTGSTER 5,000 NEW individuals per year here in Arkansas, which means that 500 of those will RE-offend—how should those 500 (10%) be picked out of the group?

Also, how are the “answers” to the questions on the assessment tool gotten? Is the word of the sex offender only, a self report as it will? Is that the way the Trojan Horse P went from a HIGH LEVEL VIOLENCE, LIKELY TO REOFFEND LEVEL 4 in Texas rating, go down to a 2, not even on the MAP level in Arkansas when he was “reassessed” Considering he had 3 separate violations, convictions, prison sentences, drug problems, violence problems, broke every parole he was ever on, etc? as well as ASPD diagnosis, and Bi-polar and was most recently in prison for weapons violation???????

None of this makes ANY sense to me at all. I’m about to go with Buttons on “S-pathy island” LOL


If my experience tells anything, it is that the good guys do understand these disordered but so often lack the teeth in the legal system which includes DA’s Judges and attorneys to do what needs to be done to invoke the options for sentencing them.

I can only think of the parole officer who was generous enough to open the door of understanding to me on the fateful day.

The path that has folloewd from there over and over re enforces that he “got it” and shared enough with me that I could find out what is true too.

I think they are doing what can be done with this guy and I hope for my own sake and for any as yet unspecting victim, that they do in fact find they way to help him enjoy ongoing but peculiar hospitality.

I also think this means that what we talked about on LF of joining the legions of those willing to understand the laws, the problems and the process that is needed to deal with these people are obligated to go out in the world and evangelize what we have learned.

And that will mean participating in political process and community.

But, isn’t that what it is all about?


Silvermoon, yes – that IS what it’s all about. It’s about facing down that rabid tiger and grabbing it by the ears and putting it out of our misery.

Donna, have you ever considered printing up Tshirts with one of those “anti” circles around the term, “Spath?” They’d sell like HOTCAKES!!!!!



When doing these kind of assessments the ideal and preferred way is that you get as much collateral information from as many different reliable sources as possible. The reality is often something different though.

Another issue is that the way these are done often vary quite a bit in the end result. Even the PCL-R scores vary 10 or more points depending on who is doing it. That is a huge problem. If only a small number of tightly monitored people were the only ones using these tools it would be much easier for the tool to be used properly and get better results. But when a test hits widespread use it is not so easy.

I don’t think there is any one easy answer. A few things I personally think would help would be a change in the correctional system as a whole. We are the “land of the free” yet we lock up more people than even the soviet union did. We need to work on prevention and treatment for the low level non-violent crimes and save the long term prison sentences for those truly dangerous offenders.

In my state alone we spend over $1 Billion dollars a year on prisons while only spending about $670 million on education. Money better spent on prevent and education programs to help people learn about and better avoid predatory people. Money better spent on prevention, treatment and social programs to help decrease crime overall.

And sadly there is no 100% way to ever be safe or get rid of predatory people. And despite the myth some people who would be called sociopaths DO benefit from treatment. Just because someone won’t change or don’t change does not mean they can’t change. Many people with substance abuse issues won’t/don’t change for many years with some never changing. Some predatory people (such as a gang member) don’t/won’t change for years and do horrible things yet decades later they change and turn around and run programs to try to help others escape that lifestyle.

There are very few absolutes. There are some that won’t change. It is their choice though. And that is what makes it harder to predict. People, unlike animals, can overcome nature and nurture with choice in many areas. This is one of those areas.


I’d do a tshirt with an embroidered out line of a heart shape in the place of a circle and then put the line through it.

Small, On the left breast. And underneath it I’d put the tag line:

But, we are a small community and we are a small community who are determined to heal from this experience and not repeat it.

Maybe a better shirt would have a picture of earth from space and underneath it, ME TOO. Because isn’t the exercise to heal from the stunning, disabling shock and fear and grief in order to get back wholly to the real world?

I know I am holding on tight here. Still.4 almost 5 months and I cling to this place and these friends because when I don’t, its too easy to slip back into the place I was in.

I’m realizing it is time to morph again. To pull back on the throttle and rise up through the clouds of doubt and uncertainty.

I realize what has to change and that the time has come to go forward in a more integrated person than I have been before.
Everything adds up. Ready as ever will be because the time is now.

Is this what a catapulted stone feels like hurtling through the air?
The reason doesn’t matter to the stone, just the journey. Because landing is mandatory….

Because putting it out of our misery is exactly right Buttons.
Exactly right.


i had been thinking that i would ask someone else to out the spath as i was getting waaaay too triggered.

so, i have been living with this idea. good. fine. and everyday i feel anger at what she has done and does. really pissed.

and tonight i worked on the f****** 25 character spreadsheet and i burst out laughing at the inanity of one of the ‘characters.’ I LAUGHED 🙂

And then worked on some stuff for the AG and WASN’T TRIGGAHED AT ALL.

did get mad at the ppath again when i was reading an old IM with the bf of the boy character. (jerking me around grumble grumble…but it’s okay!)


Ox Drover

Dear Blogger,

I agree with you 100%—what our society does in the way of “criminalizing” some acts and NOT criminalizing others which are as bad or worse, the inequity of sentences, etc. just makes me want to puke!

They have “thrown out the baby” it seems with the “politically correct” bathwater.

Yes, I am aware that some “gang members” who do horrible things “change” and turn their lives around—I disagree with you though that those people who did those horrible things were actually TRUE psychopaths. BUT, the thing is, HOW on God’s green earth can you tell the difference between two people who have done the same thing (let’s say murder)?????

We can’t prosecute people for what they THINK, but only for what they DO. We can’t imprison people for what they MIGHT DO and still have a free society….Stalin, Hitler, and Mao did those things and we can’t be like them and still have a “fre4e” society.

Yet, we all admit that there are people in this world that are DANGEROUS, that are EVIL, that won’t change, that won’t quit what they are doing, that will repeat and repeat as long as they live.

The interrater problem is the same with any “subjective” test for anything, and yet there is no OBJECTIVE test proving that someone is a psychopath. Or even if they were, are they a dangerous one?

It’s kind of like you “can’t kill a snake unless it is poison” but you can only tell if it is poison if it bites and kills someone. But then, you have to make sure it is the RIGHT snake, and that you are not killing a poison snake that wasn’t the one that bit and killed the person,, and maybe it might STOP being poison if you try to rehab it and show it that being non-poison is nicer. YAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (sound of head banging on rock here) LOLK


Isn’t it wonderful how stretching out the absurd into a logical frame – like a spreadsheet makes it all so clear?

Well, I’m glad you are feeling focused enough to laugh out loud!
Its good medicine.

And better yet, getting organized to discuss the whole thing in a matter of fact way with someone who might have an action oriented interest.

Its a good thing….

super chic

one… TOWANDA!!!!


hi guys 🙂 thanks.

was trying to sleep, but it alludes me…um, that would be the too much caffeine after 4pm. arghh. well, that and the pain. i am in a chronic pain study…and we are doing some exercises…and now i am in pain. hmm. lol.

today is pretty good in lots of ways. but doing that spreadsheet a couple of weeks ago sent me over the edge…tonight it was not triggering.

silver – still falling with grace i see.

super chic

one, I think that it is AWESOME that you were able to
laugh at one of the characters!

I only have caffeine in the morning,
it doesn’t go well with the Ativan I take every night to sleep! 🙂


ativan…i’d love some atavan. no, really. it makes my muscles melt in the best way.

well, it was just SO outrageous…and i’d forgotten about that character.

super chic

I started taking it for anxiety
but it put me to sleep instead.
Now I’m addicted, can’t sleep without it,
not good!
I’ve never been addicted to anything
(except my LOVE relationshits)


i know it is very addictive. which is the only reason i don’t have a cache of it.

i actually have had very good results with using benedryl for sleep. i need to take it for allergies, but it knocks me out quite nicely. would use some tonight, but i have already taken my other allergy meds.

super chic

oops, i think at one time i was addicted to ice cream!

I’ll have to remember the benedryl, I mean,
how long can I take this Ativan?
The doctor doesn’t seem concerned. 🙁


i know that one needs to be very careful when coming off it. i’d do some reading about it shabbychic. it’s so important to get sleep. i haven’t been able to take regular sleeping medication. not that i wanted to – but i have fibro, and my sleep was terribly compromised for about three years. in the last year i took something to sleep most nights. now, i am pretty good. rarely need to use anything.

going to try to get some sleep now. have sweet dreams!

super chic

good night!


Just as an FYI there are also States that can, do and have done civil committments for this as well. Minnesota being one example.

Here is a small piece of the legal language from the law in Minnesota to give some idea:

Subd. 18b. Sexual psychopathic personality.

“Sexual psychopathic personality” means the existence in any person of such conditions of emotional instability, or impulsiveness of behavior, or lack of customary standards of good judgment, or failure to appreciate the consequences of personal acts, or a combination of any of these conditions, which render the person irresponsible for personal conduct with respect to sexual matters, if the person has evidenced, by a habitual course of misconduct in sexual matters, an utter lack of power to control the person’s sexual impulses and, as a result, is dangerous to other persons.

Subd. 18c.

Sexually dangerous person.
(a) A “sexually dangerous person” means a person who:

(1) has engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct as defined in subdivision 7a;

(2) has manifested a sexual, personality, or other mental disorder or dysfunction; and

(3) as a result, is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct as defined in subdivision 7a.

(b) For purposes of this provision, it is not necessary to prove that the person has an inability to control the person’s sexual impulses.



Just an FYI on top of the post before this one, California has a law (since 1986) called the Mentally Disordered Offenders program. You can view it here

They can impose MH treatment if six criteria are met:

The BPT can impose mental health treatment as a condition of parole when it finds that the inmate/parolee meets the following criteria:

1.The prisoner has a severe mental disorder; *

2.The prisoner used force or violence or caused serious bodily injury in one of the prisoner’s commitment crimes;

3.The severe mental disorder was one of the causes of or was an aggravating factor in the commission of the crime for which the prisoner was sentenced to prison; *

4.The prisoner’s severe mental disorder is not in remission or” cannot be kept in remission without treatment” *

5.The prisoner had been in treatment for the severe mental disorder for ninety (90) days or more within the year prior to The prisoner’s parole or release; and

6.As a result of the severe mental disorder, the prisoner represents a “substantial danger of physical harm to others.

So there is some places that have these things for more than just SO’s.

Ox Drover

Yes, I know they do but I’m, not sure just how well or even IF these are used or inforced. Do they keep then in the prison environment or do they keep them in a “less restrictive” environment?

When I worked at the Community mental health clinic I had a patient (fresh out of prison) where he had spent his time in a cell, frequently gassed because he refused to take his medication, threw feces on staff, etc. and had to be forceably medicated on a regular basis (he didn’t do well in the free world either) I only saw him twice then he “disappeared” off the clinic’s radar, I imagine back to jail or prison, as he was very violent.

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