Uncontrollable Urges and Irrational People
52 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2001
"Uncontrollable Urges and Irrational People" addresses the fundamental issue the Supreme Court will decide this term in In re Crane: the constitutionally acceptable standard for indefinite involuntary civil commitment of mentally abnormal sexual predators. It makes four principal arguments. First, it claims that genuine non-responsibility should be a necessary, limiting precondition for indefinite involuntary commitment, and that the "loss of control" language in the Court's opinion in Hendricks should be understood as a proxy for non-responsibility generally. Second, it argues that loss of control standards, as criteria for non-responsibility, are unworkable. The essay next turns to "causal link" standards of the type Kansas proposes in Crane, which permit a potentially violent predator to be confined if a mental abnormality predisposes the person to commit future acts of violence. It claims that causal link standards are over-inclusive, and, properly understood, are not non-responsibility standards at all. Causal link standards are therefore an unjustifiable threat to liberty. Finally, the essay proposes that a lack of capacity for rationality is a genuine and workable non-responsibility standard that could properly justify and limit indefinite involuntary commitment.
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