In 1994, Governor Joan Finney signed the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act into law with the goal of abating the nationwide wave of repeat violent sexual offenses. This act allows for the civil confinement of certain people who have been classified as sexually violent predators after the conclusion of their criminal sentences. Although the passing of this law was met with some controversy, it has been upheld by the Supreme Court and remains in effect in Kansas today.
What Is the Sexually Violent Predator Act?
Kansas Statutes Annotated (KSA) Section 59-29a01 states that there is a group of extremely dangerous people with a mental abnormality or personality disorder that classifies them as sexually violent predators. According to the law, these people are likely to engage in repeated acts of sexual violence if they are not treated for their underlying disorders with long-term care at a mental institution. An individual can be classified as a sexually violent predator in Kansas if the following is true:
- He or she has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense. Examples include aggravated sexual abuse, rape, sodomy and sexual battery.
- He or she suffers from a mental normality or personality disorder that makes the individual likely to engage in further predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.
The Act states that it is necessary to house sexually violent predators who are involuntarily committed in an environment that is separate from those under KSA 59-2901 for the safety of others due to the nature of their disorders and the dangers they present. The Act allows for the civil confinement of certain sexual offenders in mental hospitals after the completion of their criminal sentences to protect the community from further violent sexual crimes.
Why Did Kansas Legislature Create 59-29a01?
The Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act was created to make up for the shortcomings under existing civil law on mentally ill individuals (KSA 59-2901), which were deemed by lawmakers to be inadequate to address the special needs of sexually violent predators. The goal of the Sexually Violent Predator Act was to protect society from those classified as sexually violent predators through their long-term control, care and treatment.
Kansas’ Sexually Violent Predator Act came into existence after lawmakers found that confinement under the state’s existing mental illness statute wasn’t possible for sexual predators since they do not have the necessary level of mental disease or defect. In addition, the Kansas Legislature found that the treatment of sexual predators is different than for traditionally mentally ill patients and is best when done over the long term.
The driving idea behind the passing of 59-29a01 was the “high probability” that sexual predators would continue to engage in further acts of sexual violence in the future unless confined – thus requiring a new statute to protect society. The solution presented by the Act was to impose indefinite civil confinement for those found to be within the parameters of sexually violent predators.
When Has the Sexually Violent Predator Act Been Used in Kansas?
The most famous example of the Sexually Violent Predator Act being used in Kansas is Kansas v. Hendricks, where the Supreme Court upheld KSA 59-29a01. In this case, Kansas filed a petition under the Sexually Violent Predator Act to involuntarily commit the defendant, Hendricks, due to his long history of sexually molesting children.
Hendricks challenged the constitutionality of the Act and received a jury trial. Hendricks testified that he agreed with a physician’s diagnosis of pedophilia, which the Supreme Court determined classified him as a sexually violent predator under the Act. This led to the Court upholding the Act and ordering Hendricks to be committed to a mental hospital after his release from prison.
For more information about the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act, contact DRZ Law to request a free consultation with a sexual assault plaintiff’s attorney in Leawood, Kansas.