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Kansas v. Hendricks

Kansas v. Hendricks


What is Kansas v. Hendricks?

The case of Kansas v. Hendricks begins when Leroy Hendricks’ was on the verge of being released from prison. Mr. Hendricks was serving prison time for his lengthy history of sexual molestation. The state of Kansas incarcerated Hendricks under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. After testifying that he concurred with the diagnosis that he still suffered from pedophilia and is likely to molest a youth again, Hendricks became a candidate for civil commitment under the legislation which provided for the imprisonment of all individuals who are likely to engage in “predatory acts of sexual misconduct or violence” brought on by “mental abnormalities.” On appeal from the court ordered commitment, the Supreme Court of Kansas invalidated the act as unconstitutional. The case of Kansas v. Hendricks made its way to the United States Supreme Court where Kansas was granted certiorari.

Kansas v. Hendricks: The Question Surrounding the Case

The primary question of Kansas v. Hendricks revolved around the Act’s civil commitment provision. The case of Kansas v. Hendricks specifically looked at the act’s provision of “mental abnormality” and what its true definition was. The case of Kansas v. Hendricks took this provision and evaluated whether it violated substantive due process and double jeopardy requirements.

Kansas v. Hendricks: The Decision

The decision of Kansas v. Hendricks saw a 5 to 4 vote in favor of the state of Kansas. The United States Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks found that the provision did not violate the requirements of the due process clause.

The court found in Kansas v. Hendricks that despite Hendricks’ claim that a certification of “mental illness” was too arbitrary to sustain a civil commitment order, the Supreme Court held that Act satisfied the standards of substantive due process by requiring evidence of past violent sexual behavior and a present mental inclination to repeat such illegal offenses.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court of the United States in Kansas v. Hendricks held that since it required the release of persons who became mentally stable and no longer dangerous, the Act did not violate double jeopardy guarantees because it merely authorized civil and not criminal commitments.

The case of Kansas v. Hendricks set forth procedures for the civil commitment of incarcerated individuals convicted of sex offenses whom the state regards as dangerous due to mental conditions. The ruling in Kansas v. Hendricks reversed the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling to ultimately agree with the state’s procedure for the indefinite civil commitment for sex offenders who satisfy the definition of a mental condition upon release from jail.

The court’s ruling in Kansas v. Hendricks which finds the preventative long term confinement of mentally disordered persons was previously justified on the grounds that some people’s behavior simply cannot be stopped.