Monday, October 30, 2006
CrimProf David Steinberg Comments on New Law Allowing Sexually Violent Predators to Remain Indefinitely Hospitalized
From signonsandiego.com: Thomas Jefferson School of Law CrimProf David Steinberg comments on the legal controversy emerging over modifications to a California state law allowing sexually violent predators to be committed indefinitely at mental hospitals after they've served their prison terms.
On Sept. 20, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1128, which removed provisions in the original laws requiring predators to have a trial every two years to determine whether authorities can continue to confine them at the hospitals. Such proceedings are usually referred to as recommitment hearings.
The question remains: Can a person's current two-year commitment term at a state hospital be automatically converted into an indefinite term under the modified law?
“I suspect the answer is no,” said CrimProf Steinberg. “To do so would be a taking of their liberty without due process.”
Sexually violent predators are a special classification of sex offenders under the new law. Officials must document two or more violent sex crimes – such as rape, sexual assault or child molestation – and a diagnosis of a mental disorder making future crimes likely. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]