At the Manhattan Psychiatric Center in New York City, rapist Michael Parker is stuck in legal limbo, says The Village Voice. He’s in custody, but he’s not serving a criminal sentence. He was released from state prison in the spring after completing his required stay. He’s not been committed as a psychiatric patient. He’s being held in a separate area from the patients at the center who suffer from severe psychosis. Like several other men at the center, Parker faces a choice that is, depending on your view, either diabolical or diabolically clever.
If he is officially committed, the only way Parker can ever be released is by volunteering to undergo psychiatric treatment that may require him to divulge incriminating information about his past that could be used to send him back to prison. Parker can’t be forced to undergo the treatment, but he can’t leave until he agrees to participate. Parker refuses to volunteer, which keeps him in custody indefinitely. In the 19 other states where sex offenders are being held as patients, critics have cited the high price and low rehabilitation rates; many say that focusing resources on the worst predators ignores a much larger population of less dangerous sex offenders who are often related to or friends of their victims, and who receive little treatment. The cost of Parker’s custody: $200,000 each year, much higher than the $35,000 cost of a year in prison.