Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Sex Offender Treatment Program Legal, Court Rules. (Fifth Amendment Rights)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Sex Offender Treatment Program Legal, Court Rules. (Fifth Amendment Rights)

Article excerpt

In a case with potentially far-reaching impact on sexual abuse treatment programs in prisons across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such programs do not necessarily violate a prisoner's rights by requiring that the prisoner admit to the crime in question as well as to any unreported crimes.

In a sharply divided 5-4 ruling, the court overturned two lower courts, finding that Kansas could require inmates in its sexual abuse treatment program not only to admit responsibility for the sex crimes for which they were jailed, but to disclose any unreported sex crimes. The program requires a polygraph test to ensure honesty, and admissions are not protected by immunity.

This interpretation subjects prisoners to prosecution for perjury in their original cases if they took the stand and denied culpability in their original trials. They could face trial for any previously unknown crimes they admit to. While many states have modeled their treatment programs on Kansas's model, Kentucky offers immunity for prisoners who admit to their crimes.

If an inmate refuses to comply, as in the case before the court, he faces removal from the medium-security, 18-month program and return to a maximal-security unit. He may lose privileges, such as increased visitation.

The American Psychiatric Association did not file a brief as a friend of the court in the case and has not taken a position on the issue, said Dr. Renee Binder, San Francisco chair of the APA Council on Psychiatry and the Law. …

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