Mental Health America; adopted December 5, 2015, Position Statement 55
Position Statement 55: Confining Sexual Predators In The Mental Health System
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES
“At least twenty states  and the Federal government  have passed various versions of what has come to be called “sexual predator” legislation. These laws provide for indefinite involuntary commitment of people who have committed serious sex offenses to mental health treatment facilities after they complete prison terms. At least 5,000 persons are currently confined under these laws. The impetus for this legislation was the repeal of the indeterminate sentencing laws under which people who had committed serious sex offenses previously were confined in prison until prison officials were satisfied that they were no longer dangerous and the highly publicized accounts of a number of people who, upon release from prison for sex crimes, committed additional heinous crimes, in some cases against children. The United States Supreme Court narrowly approved sexual predator laws in a 1997 decision, Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997).
Mental Health America (MHA) believes that these laws do not constitute sound public policy. They focus on punishment rather than treatment, deal with people who often do not have a treatable mental illness, increase stigma, distort civil commitment, risk the safety of other persons in mental health facilities, divert resources from mental health care and inappropriately burden the mental health system with a criminal justice function for which it is not funded or equipped.”
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