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18 Dev. Mental Health L. 1 (1998)

handle is hein.journals/dvmnhlt18 and id is 1 raw text is: Developments in
Mental Health Law
The Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy - The University of Virginia
Volume 18, Numbers 1 & 2                        January-December 1998
Hendricks and the Future of Sex Offender
Commitment Laws
by Eric S. Janus
In its 1997 Hendricks decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator commitment law. In
important ways, the decision gives states the green light to use civil commitment
as a tool to address sexual violence. More broadly, the decision answers a
number of questions about the constitutional limits on the use of civil
commitment. Despite the answers, questions remain, particularly about the
practical application of these constitutional limits. During the two years since
Hendricks was decided, several important lower court decisions have begun to
shed light on these questions. However, the most significant limits on the use of
civil commitment will come from legislative and administrative policy decisions.

I.    Sex Offender commitments
Sex offender commitments
deploy civil-commitment-style
confinement to address sexual
violence. Beginning in the late
1930's, states began to enact civil
commitment laws aimed at
mentally disordered sex offenders.
Eventually, such laws were
enacted in over half the states.

Eric S. Janus is Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul,
Minnesota. The author has served as co-counsel in litigation challenging the
constitutionality of Minnesota's Sexually Dangerous Persons Act. Editor's note:
While this issue of Developments is intended to cover relevant 1998 topics, it was
published in 1999, and Professor Janus includes some 1999 cases in the discussion.

Also in this issue:
Federal Courts               p. 4
Virginia Courts              p. 14
Other State Courts           p. 19
Book Reviews                 p. 46
Sex Offender Statutes        p. 25
Medical Ethics & Human Rights p. 29

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