The Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators’ Treatment and Care Act, enacted in response to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce by sex offender Juan Chavez in 1995, is federal legislation that provides, among other things, a civil commitment procedure for the long term treatment of sexually violent predators.
The Act defines certain sex offenders—“sexually violent predators”—as having a mental abnormality and seeks to have these offenders involuntarily and indefinitely committed to an appropriate “secure facility” for treatment, but only after the offenders have already served their criminal sentences in jail. Moreover, it applies only to persons who have already been convicted of a sexually violent crime. Although the Florida Legislature passed the Jimmy Ryce Act unanimously, the Act is controversial to courts, academia, and civil rights activists because it raises constitutional concerns.
- Search the Internet for background information on the Jimmy Ryce case.
- Identify at least three constitutional concerns raised by critics, and explain whether or not you agree with these concerns.
- Should all sexual predators be released back into society once they have served their criminal sentence? Why or why not?