KANSAS: REVIEWING EXTENDED SENTENCES (Sexual predators’ fate in High Court’s hands)

Newsday/Gaylord Shaw

The Supreme Court said it will decide whether states must prove sexually violent predatorscannot control their dangerous criminal behavior before they can be committed for treatment. Theyagreed to consider whether constitutional due process principles require proof the predators wereunable to control themselves when state seek involuntary civil commitment after the prison terms ofthe predators have ended. State officials were appealing a Kansas Supreme Court ruling last Julythat a lower court had strayed from that standard in the case of Michael T. Crane. He had beenconvicted of exposing himself to a tanning-salon attendant in 1993 and also pleaded guilty toaggravated sexual battery in an attack on a video store clerk. State officials also sought to haveCrane locked up in a state hospital as a sexually violent predator after he completed his prisonsentence, and a state judge let jurors accept a lower standard, ruling they could decide whether hehad a personality disorder that made him likely to engage in future acts of sexual violence. Thecivil commitment proceeding began near the end of Crane's sentence on the aggravated sexual batterycharge and he was ordered committed to a state facility for treatment. When Crane argued he couldnot be committed constitutionally without a showing he was totally unable to control his criminalsexual behavior, the state replied it had met its burden by showing he suffered from a personalitydisorder and exhibitionism and that he was likely to commit more sex offenses if he does notundergo further treatment. The jury decided against Crane, and the court ordered his confinement ina state hospital, where he remains. After the Kansas Supreme Court ruling, which also ordered a newtrial, the state's lawyers appealed to the US Supreme Court, saying the higher standard wouldimproperly limit the number of sexual offenders who can be committed for treatment.