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Dangerous Diagnoses, Risky Assumptions, And The Failed Experiment Of "Sexually Violent Predator" Commitment, Deirdre M. Smith Jul 2015

Dangerous Diagnoses, Risky Assumptions, And The Failed Experiment Of "Sexually Violent Predator" Commitment, Deirdre M. Smith

Faculty Publications

In its 1997 opinion, Kansas v. Hendricks, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that reflected a new model of civil commitment. The targets of this new commitment law were dubbed “Sexually Violent Predators” (SVPs), and the Court upheld indefinite detention of these individuals on the assumption that there is a psychiatrically distinct class of individuals who, unlike typical recidivists, have a mental condition that impairs their ability to refrain from violent sexual behavior. And, more specifically, the Court assumed that the justice system could reliably identify the true “predators,” those for whom this unusual and extraordinary deprivation of ...