Imagine a statute that allowed a person to be criminally tried, convicted, and punished for driving under the influence and upon release from imprisonment that same person could be civilly tried and civilly committed under the same set of facts of the previous crimes for which they were imprisoned. If such statute existed, people would be beating down our legislatures’ front door demanding the statute be amended or repealed. However, if a similar statue was created in which the crime in the previous illustration was not drunk driving but of a sexual nature, few people would be crying for amendment or repeal. The difference in views seems to suggest that citizens view sexual deviance as unique and those who commit such offenses are unworthy of civil liberties. This difference is one of the main reasons why Sexual Violent Predator Acts were passed without much criticism or complaints from the general public.
In the arena of sexual offense jurisprudence, there are few solid truths. Two truths; however seem certain. The first is that liberty rights are not absolute and can be overwritten by overzealous legislators. The second truth is that if civil liberty deprivation is only against sex offenders the public is willing to look the other way. Perception based on the media’s sensationalizing of sexual offenses reflects society’s feelings that all sex offenders are pariahs and cannot control their behavior.
Missouri civilly commits those who cannot control their behavior and are “predisposed to commit sexually violent acts.” Sounds dangerous right? But the question that begs to be asked is, if, indeed, the men civilly committed under the sex offender civil commitment statute cannot control their behavior, how do you explain that none of the staff members have been sexually assaulted?
The Sexual Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services (SORTS) in Farmington, Missouri, where the majority of the civilly committed sexual offenders are detained, has reported virtually no sexual assaults on staff since the program began receiving men in 1999. The majority of the staff is young females. Unlike prisons, no doors separate staff from the alleged predators. Staff and residents sit side by side watching TV, playing cards, and participating in other activities. Neither staff nor committed sex offenders wear uniforms, just regular civilian street clothing.
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So why aren’t there violent rapes and sexual assaults on the young female staff members on a weekly basis? Could it possibly be that these men do not meet the legal criteria for civil commitment because they actually can control their behavior? But if that’s true, doesn’t that make Missouri’s sexual offender civil commitment a sham, a fraudulent money pit into which Missouri taxpayers now throw $50 million annually? Congratulations, you are now well informed. Amend or repeal the sexual offender civil commitment act. The failed twenty-year experiment is over and it’s time to move on. Quit fooling the taxpayers.
Background: Stan Schell, age 70, is a former sex offender and has been fighting his own civil commitment in court since 2011. Schell, who is representing himself in Case No. 11CF-PR00086-01 in Crawford County, Missouri, is the author of numerous articles opposing a Missouri law which needlessly incarcerates elderly former sex offenders for life after their prison sentences are completed.