Document Type


Publication Date



In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the sexually violent predator (SVP) act in Kansas did not violate double jeopardy or substantive due process even though it indefinitely commits an individual to a locked state-run facility after that individual has completed a maximum prison term. In this article, we question a core empirical foundation for the Court’s holding in Hendricks: that SVPs are so dangerous that they will commit repeat acts of sexual violence if they are not confined. Our findings suggest that SVP laws have had no discernible impact on the incidence of sex crimes. These results challenge the only constitutionally permissible justification for SVP legislation, and they imply that states could more effectively reduce sex crimes by allocating these resources elsewhere. Our argument merits particular attention because we are not asking the Court to reconsider evidence previously presented but deemed insufficient; instead, we are urging the Court to consider evidence that was not yet available when Hendricks was decided.


Criminal Law | Fourteenth Amendment | Law