Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2003

Senate advances sex predator bill

May 4, 2003

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— A bill correcting a flaw in the state's law on confining violent sexual predators has been approved by the Senate and sent to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who supports the measure.

The Senate vote Saturday was 39-0. The House approved the measure in March on a 123-0 vote.

Under the law, a sex offender who has finished a prison term can be held indefinitely for treatment of a mental abnormality or personality disorder if a jury in a civil proceeding finds that the person is a "sexual predator."

The law says the civil trial must occur within 60 days after a judge determines there is enough evidence to put the question to a jury.

Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the 60-day deadline is absolute, even if the offender seeks a delay in a trial or a judge postpones a trial without such a request.

The bill declares that the 60-day requirement is "directory and not mandatory."

The Supreme Court's decision released Edgar J. Searcy, who was declared a sexual predator in 2001 by a Barton County jury based upon his child sex offenses in Florida and Kansas.

Since the ruling, seven other predators have been released from custody, according to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, who also sought the bill, identified 14 other sexual predators currently in custody who could be released because of the Supreme Court decision.

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