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April 22, 2013

Notable civil rights action victory for Iowa sex offenders subject to civil confinement

Because sex offenders rarely get court victories concerning impositions on their civil rights, I found noteworthy today's panel ruling in the Eighth Circuit in Arnzen v. Palmer, No. 12-3634 (8th Cir. April 2013) (available here). Here is how the opinion starts:

Patients at the Iowa Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO) filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the placement of video cameras in CCUSO restrooms, and moved for a preliminary injunction to stop their use. The district court denied the motion as to cameras in the "dormitory style restrooms" (restrooms with multiple toilets, showers and sinks) but granted a preliminary injunction ordering that cameras in the "traditional style bathrooms" (bathrooms with a single toilet, sink, and shower) be pointed at the ceiling or covered with a lens cap. The administrators of CCUSO appeal and we affirm.

April 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Permalink


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What prevents civally committed inmates in Iowa and in other states from rising up the way Lucasville and Attica inmates once did? Are they more secure than maximum security prisons? Or, are the detainees who are sent there more passive than your militant-type radical inmates?

It would seeme to me to be a no-brainer that keeping a person beyond his or her sentence would eliminate any incentive for that detainee to behave toward the staff and jailors.

Posted by: william r. delzellell | Apr 23, 2013 10:36:42 AM


I would think a lot of it is that as bad as these facilities might be there are worse places to end up and these civilly committed patients have likely seen some of them and don't want to go back.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 23, 2013 11:47:38 AM

nah soronel that's not it. More of a case that those in the illegal comitment facilities are having been dumb or unlucky enough to be sent there. Are dumb enough to accept the illegal shit the govt keeps pulling instead of staging a nation wide revolt.

Trust me I would!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 23, 2013 1:56:28 PM

Soronel's suggestion MIGHT be correct. It is strange that virtually all the documentaries on civil commitment ever since 1990 (the year that this practice started--in that particular case, the state of Washington)have never broached the subject of whether inmates at civil commitment would have any more incentive to be "model" prisoners the way regular convicts would as a condition of early release in regular penetentiaries. Also, documentaries on civil commitment have never discussed the issue of staff/guard safety, or other discipline/security issues at these facilities. Regular prisons, in contrast, have received AMPLE attention from the news media about such concerns.

Posted by: william r. delzellell | Apr 23, 2013 2:55:12 PM

If you are trying save some one from assault, I am not sure this is a victory...

Posted by: zed power | May 4, 2013 4:40:48 PM

I am an individual who's life has been destroyed because of the "amended law" to change one's tier level on the Department of Public Safety's sex offender website, based only on one's past. I disagree with their decision to change me from tier 1, which is where I've been for the last 25 years, and move me to tier 2; disclosing all personal information, place of residence and photos. I did have a family before this happened, but after having my life (fiance' and child) threatened by people I don't know in the community, I chose to leave my home of 13 years and 10 year old daughter, whom I had full custody of, so she could pursue her singing and acting career, without my past affecting her future. "I am not the person the state assumes I am and never will be!"
When laws are changed to deliberately continue ruining someone's life, or the assumption is made that I have become a threat to society, based only on my past, with the assistance of amended laws, it is not only constitutionally offensive, but also highly prejudicial and defamation of my character, ruining the little bit of good reputation I did have left.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S.C. states that "no person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."
The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits state and federal governments from prosecuting individuals for the same crime on more than one occasion, or imposing more than one punishment for a single offense.
It is clearly stated in the second sentence of our Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Unalienable rights are fixed rights given to us by our Creator rather than by government. Unalienable rights are absolute rights - showing that they are absolute because they came from him who is absolute, and they were, are, and always will be, because the Giver of those rights - "Creator" - was, is, and always will be.
Because we are "endowed" with them, the rights are inseparable from us: they are part of our humanity. In other words, the government did not give them and therefore cannot take them away, but the government still strains at ways to suppress them.
To protect fundamental, individual rights, James Madison helped include the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. The intent was to remove them from government's reach.
Unalienable rights, explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights, include "the right to be secure in one's own property and protection from cruel and unusual punishment."
Furthermore, law is a respecter of persons if it treats persons differently because of their immutable status or belief. The law is not a respecter of persons if it treats persons differently on the basis of their acts or conduct. The law looks to what a person does, not who they are. Those who deny the rule of equality or its origins in the law of God, or who argue that equality is subject to changing cultural or social conditions, or who twist the meaning of equality to require government mandated quotas, do so in contravention of the principle of equality.
Title 18, Section 242 of the U.S.C. makes it a crime [a felony] for "whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, to willfully subject any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution of the United States."
Referring to the Declaration of Independence, President Abraham Lincoln affirmed that the United States was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that 'all men are created equal'." Lincoln realized that the rule of equality applied to all men and nations, without regard to the age in which they lived, their location on the globe, or the circumstances of history which surrounded them. Therefore, infringement of my Individual rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are precluded.
I have paid my debt to society and for the state to enforce this sudden life changing affliction upon me, ruining all chances of ever being employed again or finding suitable residency, it has impaired me completely disabled.

Posted by: James Thomas | Feb 18, 2014 12:54:49 PM

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