In the United States, sexually violent predator (SVP) laws permit states or the federal government to (indefinitely) confine someone already in custody, even after the sentence (law) has been completed, if the person has a "mental abnormality" or personality disorder and who is likely to engage in sexual offenses if released. In many states, the legal test for "mental abnormality" is weaker than that for mental illness. State laws of this kind are commonly called Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), most famously that of Kansas, which was the first one to be upheld as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 1997—Kansas v. Hendricks. Another term used is sexually dangerous person (SDP), in particularly in the 2006 federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
Although review provisions are a part of many SVP statutes, petitions for release rarely succeed. SVP statutes generally have three requirements:
- an underlying conviction for a sexually violent crime, or conduct that would be a crime, (not needed in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act)
- a "mental abnormality" or personality disorder, often pedophilia, and
- that the offender be likely to reoffend unless confined in a secure facility.
Some U.S. states have laws designating certain criminals as sexually violent predators, thus allowing these offenders to be held in state run in-custody mental institutions after their sentence is complete if they are adjudicated to be a risk to the public. The first sexually violent predator law in the U.S. was the "Community Protection Act of 1990" passed in the state of Washington. As of 2005, sixteen other states have passed similar laws.
- Sexual predator
- Sex offender
- Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2003)
- United States v. Comstock
- California Proposition 83 (2006)
- La Fond, John Q. und Winick, Bruce J. (eds.): Protecting society from sexually dangerous offenders: law, justice, and therapy. American Psychological Association, 2003.
- Washington Department of Social and Health Services informational page on SVPs
- Colorado Division of Criminal Justice SVP assessment screening guidelines
- California SVP law ruled constitutional
- Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Persons CRS Report for Congress, July 2007