Despite the release of a convicted sex offender who is now accused of raping and beating a woman at knifepoint Sunday, state courts are much more likely than not to keep convicted sex offenders locked up indefinitely after they finish their prison sentences.
Between 2010 and 2012, juries and judges sent 57 of the 83 convicts who sought release back to detention, even though their sentences were up, according to statistics kept by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.
About 20 states use civil commitments — in which a convict is ordered held after a sentence is over — for sex offenders, a controversial practice that critics call a form of double jeopardy.
Until four years ago, prosecutors did not have a say in whether a civil commitment case in Massachusetts would be decided by only a judge or by a jury. But prosecutors fought for the right to advocate for juries to hear the cases, thinking they would be more likely to keep convicted sex offenders off the street.
“I’m Joe Q Public and I see a guy who has been convicted as a sex offender, and now you’re asking me if I want him out in my community or if I want him in for treatment?” said former Middlesex district attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. “I want him in for treatment.”
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