Sexual Predators: Society, Risk, and the Law (International Perspectives on Forensic Mental Health)

Convicted sex offenders released from custody at the end of their criminal sentences pose a risk for re-offense. In many US states, Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) laws have been enacted that allow for the post-prison preventive detention of high risk sex offenders. SVP laws require the courts to make dispositions that protect the public from harm while at the same time respecting the civil rights of the offender. This book describes these SVP laws, their constitutionality, and aspects of their operation. Courts hear expert risk testimony based heavily on the results of actuarial risk assessment. Problems associated with this testimony include the lack of a theory of recidivism risk, bias due to human decision-making, and the insularity of scholarship and practice along developmental lines. The authors propose changes in legal standards, as well as a unified developmental model that treats sexual violence as an “evolving” condition, with roots traceable to childhood and paths that extend into adolescence and adulthood.


Eric Janus served as President and Dean of William Mitchell College of Law from 2007-2015.  During that period, he initiated and led a successful $25 million campaign, and the school established a Native American Law and Sovereignty Institute and Center for Law and Business, obtained permission from the American Bar Association to establish the first hybrid online/on-campus J.D. program among ABA-approved law schools, and negotiated an agreement to combine with the Hamline University School of Law to create the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.  He was named one of the “25 Most Influential People in Legal Education” by The National Jurist in 2015 and 2016. In 2018, he received the 22nd Annual Earl Larson Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, for his “lifelong commitment to justice and civil liberties work.”

Professor Janus’ scholarly focus has been on constitutional and public policy considerations in the development of so-called regulatory approaches to sexual violence prevention.

Cornell University Press published his book Failure to Protect: America’s Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State.  His latest book, co-authored with Drs. Robert Prentky and Howard Barbaree, is Sexual Predators: Society, Risk and the Law.

In 2017, he established the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, funded by a grant from the Vital Projects Fund.  He serves as the center’s director in its efforts to provide support for impact litigation and policy-reform work designed to produce constitutional, effective, humane and empirically sound sex offense policies.

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