Twenty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have enacted Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) laws that permit the civil commitment of sex offenders. Under these laws, imprisoned sex offenders serving criminal sentences are transferred to treatment facilities and held indefinitely. As one individual describes civil commitment, “It’s worse than prison. In prison I wasn’t happy, but I was content because I knew I had a release date.” An estimated 5,400 individuals are currently civilly committed under these laws.
This Note argues that such laws do not adequately protect respondents’ due process rights. To that end, this Note proposes a more rights-protective application of Mathews to expand procedural protections for respondents in SVP civil commitment proceedings and offers two additional procedures to better protect respondents’ rights.