The Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act

In 1994, the Kansas legislature approved the Sexually Violent Predator Act, allowing "sexually violent predators" to be civilly committed after they completed their criminal sentences. A sexually violent predator included:

[A]ny person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in the predatory acts of sexual violence, if not confined in a secure facility.

Sexually violent offenses included rape, indecent liberties with a child, sodomy, aggravated sodomy, indecent solicitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated incest. It also included all of the offenses listed previously that were attempted or committed prior to the enactment of the law (1994). It even included a broad range of offenses that are considered "sexually motivated" (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-29a02(a)(Supp. 1996)).

The civil commitment process in Kansas requires the agency in charge of the inmate's release (i.e., the State Department of Corrections) to notify the Attorney General, along with a multidisciplinary team, of the inmate's imminent release. This affects inmates who may meet the sexually violent predator criteria. The multidisciplinary team, providing guidance to the prosecutor, decides whether to file a petition to commit the inmate civilly. The judge decides whether probable cause exists. The inmate is given the right to legal counsel, to present evidence, and to cross-examine witnesses. If probable cause exists, the inmate is transferred to a secure facility for a professional mental evaluation.

The last stage involves a trial that determines whether the inmate is a sexually violent predator. In addition to the rights given at the probable cause hearing, the inmate is also provided the right to elect for a jury trial (which requires a unanimous jury decision), a mental evaluation by a professional, and a standard of proof that involves "beyond a reasonable doubt." Probable cause refers to a standard that involves an adequate amount of evidence, whereas "beyond a reasonable doubt" refers to a stricter standard, requiring more evidence. If it is found that the inmate is a sexually violent predator, he or she is transferred to a secure facility, "until such time as the person's mental abnormality or personality has so changed that the person is safe to be at large" (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-29a02(a)(Supp. 1996)).

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