Kansas v. Hendricks

Kansas v. Hendricks

Litigants=Kansas v. Hendricks
ArgueDate=December 10
DecideDate=June 23
FullName=Kansas v. Leroy Hendricks
Prior=Certiorari to the Kansas State Supreme Court
Holding=Reverses Kansas State Supreme Court and agrees with the state's procedures for the indefinite civil commitment procedures for sex offenders meeting the definition of a "mental abnormality" upon release from prison
JoinMajority=Rehnquist, Scalia, O'Connor, Kennedy,
JoinDissent=Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg,
LawsApplied=Due Process, Miscellaneous; Criminal Procedure, Ex Post Facto

Kansas v. Hendricks ussc|521|346|1997 is a case in which U.S. Supreme Court set forth procedures for the indefinite civil commitment of prisoners convicted of a sex offense whom the state deems dangerous due to a mental abnormality.

Fact of case

Under Kansas' Sexually Violent Predator Act (Act), any person who, due to "mental abnormality" or "personality disorder", is likely to engage in "predatory acts of sexual violence" can be indefinitely confined.cite web
title=Kansas v. Hendricks - Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Kansas
publisher=Cornell University Law School
] [cite web
title=Kansus v. Hendricks 521 U.S. 346
] Leroy Hendricks had an extensive history of sexually molesting children. When he was due to be released from prison, Kansas filed a petition under the Act in state court to involuntarily commit Hendricks. Hendricks challenged the constitutionality of the Act and requested a trial by jury which the court granted. Hendricks testified during the trial that he agreed with the diagnosis by the state psychiatrist that Hendricks suffers from pedophilia and admitted that he continues to experience uncontrollable sexual desires for children when he is under extreme stress. The jury decided that he qualified as a sexually violent predator. Since pedophilia is defined as a mental abnormality under the Act, the court ordered that Hendricks be civilly committed.cite web
title=Kansas v. Hendricks certiorari to the supreme court of Kansas

Hendricks appealed the validity of his commitment as well as claiming that the state was unconstitutional using ex post facto and double jeopardy law, to the State Supreme Court. The court ruled that the Act was invalid on the grounds that the condition of "mental abnormality" did not satisfy the "substantive" due process requirement that involuntary civil commitment must be based on the finding of the presence of a "mental illness". It did not address the claims of ex post-facto and double jeopardy.

The Supreme Court granted Kansas certiorari.


The Supreme Court reversed in a 5-4 decision. It agreed with the Act's procedures and the definition of a "mental abnormality" as a "congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity which predisposes the person to commit sexually violent offenses to the degree that such person is a menace to the health and safety of others."cite web
title=Psychological Evaluation for the Courts, Second Edition - A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers - 9.04 Special Sentencing Provisions (b) Sexual Offender Statutes
] It agreed with Kansas that the Act limits persons eligible for confinement to persons who are not able to control their dangerousness.Further, the court decided the Act does not violate the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition nor the ban on ex post-facto law because the Act does not establish criminal proceedings and therefore involuntary confinement under it is not punishment. Because the Act is civil, Hendricks' confinement under the Act is not a second prosecution nor is it double jeopardy. And finally, the court said the Act is not considered punitive if it fails to offer treatment for an untreatable condition.cite web
title=Kansas v. Hendricks


The court's finding that preventative long term confinement of mentally disordered persons has previously been justified on the grounds that some people's behavior cannot be prevented, and it does not violate their rights to confine them to deter antisocial behavior. However, upholding the Act expanses involuntary civil commitment to people with personality disorders which could justify the commitment of large numbers of criminals if the proof of the likihood of reoffending required is sufficiently inclusive, which could happen if the requirement of dangerousness is not limited to those with a mental illness. Further, if mental abnormality (rather than mental illness) can be the basis for sex offender commitment, there is a danger that it may expand the basis for traditional civil commitment to personality disorders as well.

ee also

* List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 521
* Smith v. Doe"


External links

* [http://docket.medill.northwestern.edu/archives/000565.php Kansas v. Crane, Michael]
* [http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/psyc/kansas_v_hendricks.htm Kansas v. Hendricks]
* [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/United_States_of_America_v._Jason_M._Weed,_appeal_decision United States of America v. Jason M. Weed, appeal decision]

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