Washington Three years after ruling in a Kansas case that states can keep sexually violent predators locked up after their prison term is over, the Supreme Court debated on Tuesday whether some sex offenders still can show they are being held unlawfully.
"My client has been punished for 10 years under a so-called civil commitment statute," said Robert Boruchowitz, lawyer for a six-time rapist locked up under Washington state's sexual-predator law. "For all intents and purposes, this is a prison. It looks like, feels like and is a prison."
Boruchowitz contended the state was not providing treatment required by law, and convicted rapist Andre Brigham Young therefore was being punished unlawfully and should be released.
The state's lawyer, Maureen Hart, argued that the remedy for alleged improper treatment is not to release a sex offender but to "go to court and require Washington to provide the treatment and care that it has promised."
The case is a follow-up to the justices' 1997 ruling in a Kansas case that allowed states to keep sexually violent predators locked up even after they have finished serving their prison terms. Such confinement, intended to protect society, is not punitive and therefore does not amount to double punishment for the same crime, the court's 5-4 decision said.