Criminalization of the Civil Commitment

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(6), 470. Reviews the book, Civil Commitment and Social Control by Martin L. Forst (1978). The author has made a valiant attempt to investigate the criteria used by trial courts to decide whether to impose civil or criminal sanctions on convicted sex offenders under the California Mentally Disordered Sex Offender (MDSO) statute. Space limitations preclude a detailed discussion of either method or results. The author's major conclusion is that the type of commitment formally designated as ‘civil’ has gradually become more ‘criminal’ in nature. In summary, the fact that the author's results are based on systematic inquiry in three courts rather than the usual armchair analysis or case observations in a single court is an important step forward. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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