Virginia bill would end civil commitment of sex offenders

Sex Offenders-Civil Commitment
Posted at 3:14 PM, Jan 19, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers are being asked to consider repealing a 22-year-old law that allows the state to commit certain sex offenders to a psychiatric facility after they complete their prison sentences.

Virginia is one of 20 states with civil commitment laws. Critics say the laws violate the constitutional prohibition against punishing someone twice for the same crime. But supporters say the laws protect society from repeat offenders who are unable to control their behavior.

Democratic state Sen. Joseph Morrissey calls the law “archaic.” His bill is drawing criticism from Republicans and raising eyebrows among some Democrats who believe the state should retain the ability to commit the most serious offenders.