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November 9, 2010

Notable sex offender civil commitment ruling from NJ Supreme Court

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "N.J. Supreme Court upholds civil commitment of sex offender who was denied therapy," the top court in the Garden State issued a big ruling about sex offender civil commitment today.  Here are the basics:

Sex offenders are civilly committed at the end of their prison sentences when the state determines that they are highly likely to commit new sex crimes. The sex offender in this case — referred to only by his initials W.X.C. — was accused of raping two women while burglarizing their homes in 1992. He was arrested while sexually attacking a woman in a nursing home.

W.X.C. pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault, one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault and other offenses including kidnapping and robbery. At sentencing, W.X.C. asked to be sent to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, the state's only prison specifically for sex offenders, to receive therapy. However, the state's evaluation said he did not meet the criteria because, as a sex offender, he was only repetitive, not compulsive.

After 12 years in prison, W.X.C. reached parole eligibility. The same psychologist who said W.X.C. was ineligible for treatment at ADTC recommended that the state review his case for possible civil commitment, saying he “does not appear to have had any appreciable sex-offender specific psychotherapy."

W.X.C was civilly committed in 2007. One doctor wrote that he has “not moderated his risk through treatment. He has not had treatment for his sexually inappropriate behavior.” W.X.C. argued in his appeal that the state's denial of treatment during his prison sentence was being used against him.

In a 5-2 decision, the state's highest court rejected his argument, saying the laws governing placement within the prison system and civil commitment cannot be equated. Just because some offenders do not meet the criteria for treatment at ADTC does not mean they cannot be civilly committed, wrote Justice Helen Hoens in the majority decision.

"The fatal flaw in defendant’s argument lies in its failure to appreciate that the two statutes are designed to serve different purposes and strive to achieve them through different regulatory mechanisms," wrote Justice Helen Hoens in the majority opinion. "The operation of the (Sexually Violent Predator Act) is neither punitive nor fundamentally unfair and we therefore reject defendant’s arguments that it is unconstitutional as applied to him and other offenders like him."

The full ruling in IMO the Civil Commitment of W.X.C. is available at this link.

November 9, 2010 at 04:18 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Joseph Heller would be proud of the court.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 9, 2010 4:26:51 PM

This is absolute horse crap! It is widely known by many in the Department of Justice and the Department of Corrections that the recidivism rate among "treated" sex offenders is only 5.3%.

Why then would any correctional facility deny treatment to a sex offender? There is more "political correctness" in this decision that there is of justice!!

Posted by: Book38 | Nov 9, 2010 9:54:23 PM

you really really got to love two-faced crooked govt hacks!

"The same psychologist who said W.X.C. was ineligible for treatment at ADTC recommended that the state review his case for possible civil commitment, saying he “does not appear to have had any appreciable sex-offender specific psychotherapy."

So basically the same little nazi who REFUSED to give him the treatment HE ASKED FOR! is now using that same refusal to civil comit him BECASUE HE GOT NO TREATMENT!

Guess best we can hope for is a riot at the treatment facility and one of them will KILL this nazi doctor!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 10, 2010 1:38:56 AM

I believe the defendant has exhausted his 123D count. The court is keeping him alive to generate a lot of lawyer jobs. I would like to see the families of the victims help the court understand better what it is like to be a crime victim. These are horrible, purely evil people, protecting this serial rapist maniac.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 10, 2010 2:49:01 AM

Virginia beat me to it, but this does read like a chapter from an unpublished Heller novel.

W.X.C. could have been released if he'd been treated for sexually inappropriate behavior while in prison, but he was denied treatment because his sex crimes were "only repetitive," not compulsive. And because the prison shrink believes he's "highly likely" (but under no compulsion) to repeat his crimes he must instead be civilly committed after prison...because he didn't get treated in prison.

Only repetitive, not compulsive. It's a sure bet that available somewhere are several pounds of academic papers intent on clarifying that seemingly amorphous distinction.

Even so, the New Jersey court's mumbo-jumbo barely fogs the fact that treating sex offenders rates a far lower priority than punishing them and political-liability concerns, rational or not, trump any purported rights inmates might try to assert.

That's the Catch...force with specious legalistic justification.

Posted by: John K | Nov 10, 2010 11:41:14 AM

BTW, SC, criminals have families, too. From what I've seen, their suffering is no less wrenching than what crime victims endure.

No doubt the courts are intimately familiar with the range of suffering that follows in the wake of both the crime and the punishment.

Posted by: John K | Nov 10, 2010 12:56:46 PM

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