Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders in New Jersey: How Does it Compare to Other States?

Jennifer E. Scott, Rutgers University
Kristen Zgaba, Rutgers University

Sex Offender civil commitment laws are the result of a galvanized movement of legislatures to prevent future acts of sexual violence. This legislation provides for the indefinite civil commitment of sexual offenders who have completed a criminal sentence but who still pose a threat to the general community. These controversial statutes have repeatedly been brought before the courts in a series of legal challenges, yet they continue to thrive. Despite a literary foundation grounded in the constitutionality and practicality of commitment statutes, few studies have explored these statutes on a state-by-state level. This paper seeks to explore the creation and application of involuntary commitment and the debate between treatment and punishment of civillly committed sex offenders at a facility in New Jersey. Constitutional issues, including due process protections, procedural safeguards, and specific legal challenges will be examined. Comparisons between New Jersey and other states with civil commitment statutes will be explored.

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Updated 05/20/2006