Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maryland Reconsiders Civil Commitment for Sex Offenders

More than 20 states, including Pennsylvania, have adopted rules allowing sex offenders to be held for life, even after they have completed their sentence and paid their debt to society. Civil commitment statutes have been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to the Washington Post, Maryland went in a different direction, instead of civil commitments policymakers chose to employ a web of supervision laws to surround offenders and stay poised to pounce on any violations and return high-risk sex offenders to prison.

Last December, the killing of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell, allegedly by one of the state's high-risk registered sex offenders, has shaken public faith in the state's ability to identify and keep its worst offenders from assaulting again.

Maryland's House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin hearing the first of at least 52 bills to tighten restrictions on sex offenders. According to the Post, all of the bills were introduced after Sarah's murder. Governor Martin O'Malley is proposing mandatory lifetime supervision for some sex offenders.

According to the Frederick News-Post, Delegate Sue Hecht will introduce legislation to establish civil commitment in Maryland. In a twist on traditional law and order politics,Hecht, a Democrat, faces opposition on civil commitment from a Republican, Delegate Michael Smigiel.

The full Post article can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/22/AR2010022204723.html

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