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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Sex Offender Re-imprisonment


Pangloss
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"So" it's a statement about the Obama administration's position on the issue, and the Obama administration went on to nominate that candidate five months later. Sure there are other factors involved, of course there are. But for ideologues who want candidates with the correct ideological list this is both a setback and an ironic twist.

 

The law was passed in 2006, so the law is not exactly the position of the Obama administration. The legal question here was whether the government has the constitutional authority to enact the law.

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If someone is an imminent threat to themselves or others due to mental illness, I don't object to institutionalization. Whether or not they've previously committed a "sex offense" is irrelevant to me.

 

Our of curiosity, how do you feel about people who are "an imminent threat to themselves or others" due to something other than a mental defect? People do time and get released regardless of how many psych evals and officials think it's inevitable they'll commit violent crimes.

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Our of curiosity, how do you feel about people who are "an imminent threat to themselves or others" due to something other than a mental defect? People do time and get released regardless of how many psych evals and officials think it's inevitable they'll commit violent crimes.

 

To be honest I'm not entirely sure how I feel about institutionalizing those with mental illness. I respect what I would consider the right of an individual of sound mind to commit suicide if they feel that's what they desire most. But I do recognize there are mentally ill people who can't comprehend the consequences of their actions who can lead themselves or others to harm, and we do need a system in place to treat those people.

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The law was passed in 2006, so the law is not exactly the position of the Obama administration. The legal question here was whether the government has the constitutional authority to enact the law.

 

That's a total red herring. It's a law that they agree with, or they wouldn't have argued its merits before the Supreme Court in November of 2009.

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To be honest I'm not entirely sure how I feel about institutionalizing those with mental illness. I respect what I would consider the right of an individual of sound mind to commit suicide if they feel that's what they desire most. But I do recognize there are mentally ill people who can't comprehend the consequences of their actions who can lead themselves or others to harm, and we do need a system in place to treat those people.

 

That that's all somewhat aside from my question:

 

If someone cannot "comprehend the consequences of their actions" and they may be institutionalized after a prison sentence as a threat to others, what about people who do comprehend the consequences of their actions, but are equally a threat to others, for different reasons not involving mental defect?

 

I'm not advocating a "incarcerate until satisfied they have reformed" approach or anything, but I find the distinction very interesting. It seems like sex offenders represent the perfect storm of muddy conflation between important yet distinct factors.

 

(1) What do you do with someone who cannot help themselves but to cause harm due to mental illness? Your institutionalization comment addresses this.

 

(2) What do you do with someone who cannot help themselves but to cause harm because despite paying for their crime and debt to society, it's what they want to continue doing anyway?

 

It seems to me, if two people are equally liable to harm others, we release the individual who is of "sound mind" because we have no choice but to respect that until they act on it, they haven't committed a crime... but the person who is afflicted with a mental illness can continue to be institutionalized, albeit in a far less drastic way than prison.

 

When you mix that in with "sex offenders" you get a mix of both types and those who literally just made serious mistakes but won't likely reoffend. It seems to me that it's society's unresolved debate with regards to group #2 that unduly impacts group #1.

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padren,

 

It's really an issue of intent, and specifically intent to cause harm in spite of otherwise being a well-thinking human being.

 

Well-adjusted members of society are not an immiment threat, to others at the very least, because they adhere to the social contract.

 

In the case of a mentally ill person, they cannot be expected to adhere to the social contract because they lack the mental faculties to do so. As the adage goes, they "can't tell right from wrong." They may harm others with little understanding of what they're actually doing.

 

That's the crux of the issue to me: is the individual actually violating the social contract, or incapable of accepting it in the first place?

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Shouldn't these people be institutionalized rather than jailed?

 

I don't think that was the question before the court. But if you don't have the authority to detain them in a prison, do you have the authority to detain them in a mental institution?

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