Commitment Through Fear: Mandatory Jury Trials and Substantive Due Process Violations in the Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders in Illinois

Chicago-Kent Law Review: Michael Zolfo; August 9, 2018

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The issue of the constitutionality of SVP programs is a difficult one,
both legally and politically. Because of the nature of sex offenders and
sexually violent crimes, there is little to no public advocacy for the rights of
sex offenders. Much of the public would rather risk the constitutional
liberties of these criminals than risk that these criminals harm even one
person after being released. Political pressures make it a near certainty that

politicians and elected judges in Illinois will continue to use public fear of
sex offenders as ammunition for political attack ads. Sensationalistic media
coverage of sex offenders and sexual crimes will likely continue, increasing
the overall fear of sex offenders. Despite these issues, the time is right to
challenge the Illinois SVP Commitment Act and its provisions that provide
prosecutors with the unilateral right to a jury trial. These provisions result
in jurors who fear sex offenders trying the commitment and discharge
proceedings of SVP respondents. This in turn results in SVP respondents
being committed without meeting the statutory criteria or being detained
past the point where they are no longer dangerous. The U.S. Constitution
guarantees that a person cannot have their liberty taken without due process
of law. A program that forces individuals in front of a hostile jury, which
can confine them indefinitely, while actively denying them the right to
appear in front of judge simply does not square with Supreme Court
precedent on due process. If every citizen is truly to be afforded the due
process of law, no matter how horrific their crimes or personality, then
there needs to be serious changes to the jury trial provisions in the Illinois
SVP Commitment Act.

Read the whole article by clicking the link below.

SOURCE: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4214&context=cklawreview

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