In the United States prior to the 1930s, governments considered sex offenders criminals and punished them for their crimes. Then, many states enacted sexual psychopath laws, a special type of civil commitment for mentally disordered and dangerous sex offenders. Since then, most states have repealed these laws because policy makers decided sex offenders were not sick and treatment was ineffective.

Legal Regime

By the early 1990s, at least sixteen states returned to the illness model, adopting sexually violent predator (SVP) laws that civilly commit and treat dangerous sex offenders indefinitely after they have served their prison terms. Every state has adopted a sex-offender registration law, designed to deter sex crimes and help in their investigation, which require most sex offenders to register with the police. Every state ...

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