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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This Article examines the constitutional concerns raised by, and compares the costs and benefits associated with, the civil commitment of sexually violent predators. Specifically, it focuses on the State of Washington's civil commitment program, the oldest such program in the United States and the only program in the nation to have its constitutional parameters fully litigated. In large measure, the litigation surrounding Washington's civil commitment program has defined the scope of the constitutional rights of civilly committed individuals to constitutionally adequate treatment. At the same time, it has demonstrated many of the problems associated with such programs and provides an important case study in assessing their costs and benefits. This Article concludes that, in addition to the potential constitutional concerns regarding civil commitment, the costs of civil conunitment appear to outweigh its benefits. As a result, increasing criminal penalties for crimes of sexual violence may be a superior alternative.

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