SEX OFFENDER LAW IN THE 1990s: A Therapeutic Jurisprudence Analysis

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Abstract

In the 1990s 2 new models have been adopted for dealing with sex offenders—sexually violent predator laws and registration and community notification laws. The predator laws were recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks. The author analyzes Hendricks and its implications for civil commitment generally and then conducts a therapeutic jurisprudence analysis of these two new statutory models. Sexual predator laws are shown to have serious antitherapeutic consequences for those subjected to them, including labeling effects and other negative effects on treatment outcome. The author explores additional antitherapeutic effects for clinicians employed in predator programs and for people with mental illness who are not sex offenders. Community notification laws are shown to have both positive and negative effects for the community and for sex offenders. Proposals for restructuring these laws to increase their therapeutic potential are offered.

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