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December 6, 2012

Fourth Circuit rejects feds' effort to commit "sexually dangerous person" under AWA

The Fourth Circuit has a notable sex offender civil committment ruling today in US v. Caporale, No. 12-6832 (4th Cir. Dec. 6, 2012) (available here).  Here is how it gets started:

The government appeals the judgment of the district court directing that Patrick Caporale be freed from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons and granted supervised release. Caporale finished serving his prison sentence for child molestation in 2008, but he has remained incarcerated while the government seeks to have him declared a "sexually dangerous person" pursuant to the civil-commitment provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (the "Walsh Act"), Pub. L. No. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587, as specifically set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 4248.

A sexually dangerous person under the Walsh Act means one "who has engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation and who is sexually dangerous to others." 18 U.S.C. § 4247(a)(5).  A person is sexually dangerous to others insofar as he or she "suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder," and, as a result, "would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released." Id. § 4247(a)(6).  The parties have never disputed that, as evidenced by his several convictions, discussed infra, Caporale satisfies the first, prior-conduct element of § 4247(a)(5) by having engaged in child molestation.

Following an evidentiary hearing whose scope was thereby limited to the second element of § 4247(a)(5), the district court ruled that, as a matter of law, the government had not proved that Caporale suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder.  The court perceived in the alternative that even if Caporale were so afflicted, his commitment was not required because the government had also failed to sufficiently show that Caporale will experience serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released.

We conclude that, contrary to the district court’s legal determination and as established by the evidence, Caporale indeed suffers from a qualifying mental impairment. We nevertheless affirm the judgment below, discerning no clear error in the court’s alternative rationale that the government fell short of carrying its burden to demonstrate a relative likelihood that Caporale will reoffend.

December 6, 2012 at 06:01 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Now that Caporale has prevailed and will be freed from prison and placed on Supervised Release (which no doubt will be intensive), will he be compensated for having been held in prison 4 years past his 2008 release date? Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 6, 2012 6:06:46 PM

LOL not a chance. Sucker is lucky they don't declare him an enemy combatant and just disppear his ass.

I was thinking same thing you are. It's a crime that it took four years to have the hearing. What happend to a Speedy Trial.

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 7, 2012 12:14:59 AM

Especialy in a case like this were Legally he's completed his court ordered sentence so the burden of proof now shifts back to the state. At least it should if they are following the Constitution.

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 7, 2012 12:16:15 AM

Here's a Interesting point. How long was his supervised release for if it was less than four years than the day that he walks out of prison he should be an entirely free man. And still have the ability to sue the state for illegal confinement.

Posted by: WillB | Dec 7, 2012 2:19:20 PM

If he has any good time allowances, the state can keep him on parole/probation for the duration. Some states require a set number of months/years of probation even if released from prison. Virginia, for instance, will release you with six months left on your sentence then claim that you were conditionally released and therefore subject to any and all conditions of probation.

There is also a rider on most convictions these days that mandate a set amount of time for probation. Especially with sex offenders.

As for the quick and speedy trial, this was not a trail, it was a hearing. No conviction involved. A quick and speedy trial would be invoked by the defense at time of the pre-trial hearing. The problem with this is that it is a catch-22. If you do ANYTHING that would delay the trial for any reason, you loose the QST. If you accept a continuance of any time, you loose QST.

In this case he was confined based on mental illness. It takes a court order for release. Usually it is three years for everything to get done and over.

Even with the court decision, there is no guarantee that the DOC would release him. They usually will fight and appeal. If he is released, it will not involve back pay. The only time you can collect is if you serve your full sentence, with nothing suspended. Once this happens, its $200 a day. That would be yet another three to five years of court battle to get it.

Posted by: Harry Skelton | Dec 7, 2012 2:55:19 PM

Confining somebody beyond his or her prison sentence whether for a sex offense or any other offense could also put guards and corrections staff at extra risk for their own safety. If a person knows that he or she will not leave prison at the end of their sentence, where is their incentive to behave themselves toward their jailors, or towards the prosecutors and judges who remanded them to custody in the first place? Prisoners with either early release or with a definite end to their sentence have more incentive to respect guards and staff, to stay out of trouble while still behind bars,and not to make waves. These types of inmates are far less likely to kill or take guards and staff hostages during an inmate disturbance.

But if you subject an inmate to confinement beyond their sentence to a place with the same type of prison-like conditions as their regular sentence involved for probably a DE FACTO life sentence, then where is the incentive for that inmate not to target guards and corrections staff for murder or hostage-taking? With no freedom to look forward to, what does such an inmate have to lose anymore? What would such an inmate, if he or she DID manage to escape, have to lose for that matter in going after the judges and prosecutors who had him or her post-prison committed? Nobody ever discusses this "elephant" in the room.

I work as a note-taker at a community college.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Dec 7, 2012 4:19:39 PM

actualy harry your wrong here!

"In this case he was confined based on mental illness."

He was locked up in prison for a sex crime! There was no diagnosis no dr visit nothing.


Not till after they decided to use the illegal so-called sex offender civil comitment sytem did any doctors look at him and i still see nothing about a diagnosis from a real doctor!

as for this!

"Some states require a set number of months/years of probation even if released from prison. Virginia, for instance, will release you with six months left on your sentence then claim that you were conditionally released and therefore subject to any and all conditions of probation."

Legally he was relesed from his prison sentence Four Years Ago! it's simply taken the state this long to get it's shit togehter and render a decison. Unless they can show where He held things up they can't legally penalize him for there stupdity


especialy when you consider this!

"Following an evidentiary hearing whose scope was thereby limited to the second element of § 4247(a)(5), the district court ruled that, as a matter of law, the government had not proved that Caporale suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder."

So after 4 years the court said He has No mental illness! The same decison that could have been rendered after probably 3-5 months of visits 4 Years Ago!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 8, 2012 2:15:32 AM

I agree completly i wonder sometimes how many of the dead sex offenders who keep ending up dead in their cells of assorted so-called causes were really killed when trying to break out of a plainly Illegal Detention.

I know i would be trying to escape every day No matter who i had to Hurt or Kill to do it! Then if i did get out I'd be after the fucktard govt stooge who illegally kept me in there!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 8, 2012 2:17:45 AM


i agree with you here too William

"But if you subject an inmate to confinement beyond their sentence to a place with the same type of prison-like conditions as their regular sentence involved for probably a DE FACTO life sentence,"

I'm still waiting for a fucktard govt stooge or a good constitutional lawyer to tell me how it's even close to passing the smell test!

for someone to be

Perfectly sane enough to comit a crime
Perfectly sane enough to be arrested for said crime
Perfectly sane enough to have a trial for said crime
Perfectly sane enough to be convicted for said crime
Perfectly sane enough to be sentenced for said crime
Perfectly sane enough to serve said sentence for said crime

But it is only when said sentence is Finished that suddenly they are NUTS!

Sorry i don't know how many govt fucktard stooge judges say it's legal it's NOT!

Sooner or later that will come out! The only question is how many innocent people will have to Die for it to happen!


Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 8, 2012 2:23:25 AM

And the silence is deafining!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 8, 2012 10:01:40 PM

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