KS: High court weighs sexual-predator laws.
October 31, 2001
High court weighs sexual-predator laws
Kansas, wanting to hold an offender for treatment past his term, is challenging a state court
By Kevin Murphy
INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a Kansas case that could have a
nationwide impact on when imprisoned sex offenders can go free.
It is the second time the justices have taken up Kansas' 1994 sexual-predator law. In 1997, the court upheld
the law on broader constitutional issues, prompting other states to adopt similar measures.
Yesterday's argument focused on a single issue. Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall asked the court to
strike down a Kansas Supreme Court ruling last year that sex offender Michael T. Crane could not be
detained for treatment beyond his prison term unless the state proved he was unable to control his behavior.
Crane, convicted in 1993 for assaulting a video store clerk in Leawood, Kan., has a long history of sex
offenses and suffers from personality disorders, Stovall told the court.
After he completed his prison sentence, a jury found that Crane's personality disorder made him likely to
commit additional crimes, and he was consigned to the state's predator treatment unit.
Crane's lawyer, John Donham, said yesterday that the Kansas Supreme Court ruled correctly last year that
Crane cannot be held for treatment as a sexual predator unless a jury finds that he cannot control his behavior.
The state court cited the 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of pedophile Leroy Hendricks of
Wichita, the first man committed to the Kansas predator program.
Nineteen states now have laws permitting the detention of sexual predators beyond their prison terms. There
are about 1,200 people in those states committed as sexual predators.
"Because the laws are so similar, the states are all looking at what this decision does," Stovall said after the
one-hour hearing on Kansas v. Crane. The high court could set "a brand-new constitutional standard, and it
will affect every state."
Click here to read full article.
Source: © 2001 The Philadelphia Inquirer