There are sexual offenders living in typical neighborhoods all throughout the United States. Some live near schools, day care centers or the homes of people who may be viewed as potential targets for sexual predators.
The thought of living near a registered sex offender can be frightening, especially if you have young children. That’s why many people frequently run sexual offender searches – the search allows them to learn about potential predators living in any city or zip code in America. Some people are hoping the Supreme Court will support a law that will help keep sexual offenders out of their neighborhoods.
Civil Commitment is a law that gives every state the option to keep sexual offenders in custody after they have finished serving a prison sentence. The offender is taken to a high security mental hospital immediately after their release. This could be a way to keep violent sexual offenders out of society indefinitely.
Members of the Supreme Court declared Civil Commitment to be Constitutional as long as the goal is to treat patients, not inflict punishment. Any state may choose to enforce this, and on January 12, 2010, the Supreme Court heard a case that called for the commencement of Civil Commitment on a Federal level.
As of 2010, nearly 20 states utilize Civil Commitment. Currently, there are about 4,000 convicted pedophiles, rapists and other offenders confined in state-run mental facilities. Some of this is due to the efforts of a man named Martin Andrews.
When Andrews was only 13-years-old, he was approached by a stranger named Richard Ausley, who offered the boy money in exchange for help moving furniture. Ausley coaxed Andrews into his van, and drove deep into the country.
For the next several days, Martin Andrews was chained up inside a small metal box. He was beaten and savagely raped, then left to die in the wilderness. Andrews’ screams for help would have been in vain, but a group of hunters heard and followed the young boy’s cries.
Richard Ausley was arrested, tried and convicted for this heinous crime. This was not the first time he had been found guilty of a violent act. Ausley had two prior convictions for sexually assaulting young boys, and yet he was a free man in 1973 when he met Martin Andrews.
By 1999, Ausley had been incarcerated for 29 years and was going to be set free. Martin Andrews heard about his release date, and decided to do something about it. Andrews acted quickly: he lobbied lawmakers to fund a program that would examine convicted sexual offenders and determine if they should also be subjected to Civil Commitment.
Andrews was successful. Virginia lawmakers backed his cause, and began enforcing Civil Commitment laws. The man who had tormented Andrews would not be set free.
Although Andrews agrees that Civil Commitment is not the best possible system for dealing with sexual offenders, he strongly advocates the law and says that it is “the only tool we have that is 100 percent effective, because they (sexual offenders) are removed from society.” His goal is to help prevent other children from experiencing the torture he endured at the tender age of 13.
Whether or not Civil Commitment will be enforced on a federal level remains to be seen. What do you think? Should sexual offenders be held after they have served their prison term? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.
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