New York State’s new policy on civil commitment of sex offenders was made “not in response to facts, but to wishfulness and fear,” editorializes the New York Times. The policy will submit some offenders to “psychological treatment that nearly always fails and whose only sure outcome is the open-ended spending of tens of millions of dollars a year,” says the newspaper.
About 2,700 men are being held involuntarily in civil commitment programs around the nation. The Times cites evidence that civil commitment can become a judicial fraud, with men being sent away on the testimony of uncertified nonexperts into programs compromised by their conflicting mandates of offering therapy in lockups. They cost, on average, four times more per inmate than prison, but almost never make an offender fit to rejoin society. The Times urges the stte to focus on treating and supervising the large cohort of criminals who do not qualify for civil commitment, “rather than lavishing resources on the impossible task of identifying one tiny subset, the worst of the worst, locking them indefinitely in dubious therapy as a much larger universe of offenders continues to abuse at will.”