Defining Sexually Violent Predators for Civil Commitment of Violent Predators
Jim Mann, Ph.D.

In 1999 the state of Texas in the United States passed an act for the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act within its Health & Safety Code (Chapter 841, Title 11) which mandates highly supervised involuntary treatment for certain sex offenders with a behavioral abnormality. While court records clearly describe the sex offender‟s history of criminal acts, the more challenging question for the jury is whether or not a behavioral abnormality exists. Although forensic experts may provide a diagnosis as part of their evaluation, the diagnosis itself was not the defining factor leading the jury to decide if the defendant is in need of commitment. Because behavioral abnormality is a legal term, and not a psychological disorder, the person‟s behavior in the context of their sex crimes is the overriding factor. This paper describes the dictates of the law and examines how behavioral abnormalities have been viewed by the jury though an inspection of selected court records pertaining to sex offenders civilly committed by this act. The reasoning behind the Appellant Court decisions is presented as it further establishes the elements of behavioral abnormality.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jlcj.v7n1a7