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Missouri man convicted of rape questions constitutionality of law

When most people in Missouri are convicted of a crime, they expect to serve their sentence and then to be released in order to start over with their lives. However, one man in Missouri still has not experienced freedom, even after serving a 25-year sentence following a rape conviction. He has since filed a lawsuit, claiming that the state law that allowed his continued confinement is unconstitutional.

Under the current state law, if prisoners have what is called a “mental abnormality” that could potentially cause them to behave in a way that is sexually violent, they can be labeled a sexually violent predator and be committed to a mental institution indefinitely. Under the law, representatives from the Departments of Mental Health and Corrections make a determination regarding whether prisoners are still dangerous once they have completed their sentences. If found dangerous, they are committed to a mental health facility where they must remain until it is determined that they can be safely released.

One man is currently facing an indefinite commitment after serving 25 years in prison. In his lawsuit, he claims that the law is unconstitutional, that even the term “sexually violent predator” prejudices others against him. He further argues that it is impossible to meet the necessary requirements for release and that the facility in which he resides is an inadequate placement for rehabilitation.

This isn’t the first time the Missouri Supreme Court has heard arguments against the law that could send those committed of rape and other sex crimes to a mental health facility for an unspecified period of time. The Court previously ruled that failures in the law resulted in extended confinement for those who no longer met the criteria set forth by the law. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for people without legal training to properly respond to a potentially unconstitutional law, prompting may to see the advice of an experienced attorney.

Source: ABC News, “Missouri’s Sexual Predator Law Unconstitutional, Inmate Says”, Katie Kull, Jan. 12, 2017

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