Due Process and “the Worst of the Worst”: Mental Competence in Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment Proceedings

By: John L. Schwab


Sexually Violent Predator (“SVP”) civil commitment statutes have been adopted by a number of states and by the federal government. The statutes provide for the indefinite post-incarceration detention of individuals whom the state determines have a strong potential for committing violent sex acts if released. Thus, when an individual convicted of a violent sex crime has finished serving his sentence for that crime, the state may retain custody over him by proving that he is an SVP. The Supreme Court has held that these statutes are constitutional and, in particular, that they satisfy substantive due process. A number of questions still remain as to what procedural protections might be constitutionally required in SVP commitments. This Note addresses one of those questions: whether or not an accused individual has a right to be determined mentally competent before the state may commit him as a sexually violent predator.


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