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Kansas v. Crane

Kansas v. Crane


Kansas v. Crane

Kansas v. Crane is an important case concerning the standards which must be applied in order to institutionalize a sexual offender. The case of Kansas v. Crane had its origin in two incidents which occurred in 1993. The defendant, Michael Crane, entered a tanning salon and exposed himself to the attendant working there. After exiting, he entered a video store, where he grabbed the clerk on duty by the neck and demanded that she perform oral sex. After threatening rape, he left the store.


After he was taken into custody, Michael Crane was examined by court-appointed psychiatrists, who diagnosed him with a combination of exhibitionism and antisocial personality disorder. Though the psychiatrists disagreed as to whether these disorders stemmed from emotional disorders, they agreed that Michael Crane possessed sufficient self-control to refrain from such actions. Therefore, under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act, the state argued that after he had served his sentence, the state was permitted to institutionalize him as someone whose lack of control and repeat offenses made him likely to continue such actions.


However, in Kansas v. Crane, initially heard before the Kansas Supreme Court, the defendant argued that the state was obligated to prove not just the likelihood of repeat offenses but that he was unable to control his own actions. The Kansas Supreme Court concurred with Michael Crane, ruling that the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act was only constitutional if applied to those with emotional or mental disabilities. In cases such as Michael Crane's, when the cause of the offense was volitional, they ruled the state did not have the constitutional authority for this kind of institutionalization.


The state of Kansas then appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed the judgment of the Kansas Supreme Court by a ruling of seven to two. In its majority opinion in Kansas v. Crane, the Supreme Court first found that it is not constitutional to detain a sexual predator without some determination as to the lack of control exhibited by the defendant in question. Therefore, the Supreme Court noted in its majority in opinion in Kansas v. Crane that it was important to establish evaluative criteria that could distinguish between those who were unable to control themselves because of a mental or emotional illness and criminal who were able to control themselves but were still repeat offenders.


However, the Supreme Court went on to argue in Kansas v. Crane that the cause of the lack of control is effectively irrelevant. Instead, they noted that while those who are repeat offenders may be deterred by a criminal system of punishment, a mentally ill person is unlikely to be deterred. Therefore, they determined that this kind of institutionalization was a civil rather than criminal matter, one which could be performed as long as some kind of degree of lack of control was demonstrated, regardless of its cause.