Kansas v. Hendricks

Decision Date23 June 1997
Docket Number951649
Citation138 L.Ed.2d 501,117 S.Ct. 2072,521 U.S. 346
PartiesKANSAS, Petitioner, v. Leroy HENDRICKS. Leroy HENDRICKS, Petitioner, v. KANSAS
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
*
Syllabus *

Kansas' Sexually Violent Predator Act establishes procedures for the civil commitment of persons who, due to a "mental abnormality'' or a "personality disorder,'' are likely to engage in "predatory acts of sexual violence.'' Kansas filed a petition under the Act in state court to commit respondent (and cross-petitioner) Hendricks, who had a long history of sexually molesting children and was scheduled for release from prison. The court reserved ruling on Hendricks' challenge to the Act's constitutionality, but granted his request for a jury trial. After Hendricks testified that he agreed with the state physician's diagnosis that he suffers from pedophilia and is not cured and that he continues to harbor sexual desires for children that he cannot control when he gets "stressed out,'' the jury determined that he was a sexually violent predator. Finding that pedophilia qualifies as a mental abnormality under the Act, the court ordered him committed. On appeal, the State Supreme Court invalidated the Act on the ground that the precommitment condition of a "mental abnormality'' did not satisfy what it perceived to be the "substantive'' due process requirement that involuntary civil commitment must be predicated on a "mental illness'' finding. It did not address Hendricks' ex post facto and double jeopardy claims.

Held:

1.The Act's definition of "mental abnormality'' satisfies "substantive'' due process requirements. An individual's constitutionally protected liberty interest in avoiding physical restraint may be overridden even in the civil context. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 26, 25 S.Ct. 358, 361, 49 L.Ed. 643. This Court has consistently upheld involuntary commitment statutes that detain people who are unable to control their behavior and thereby pose a danger to the public health and safety, provided the confinement takes place pursuant to proper procedures and evidentiary standards. Foucha v. Louisiana, 504 U.S. 71, 80, 112 S.Ct. 1780, 1785-1786, 118 L.Ed.2d 437. The Act unambiguously requires a precommitment finding of dangerousness either to one's self or to others, and links that finding to a determination that the person suffers from a "mental abnormality'' or "personality disorder.'' Generally, this Court has sustained a commitment statute if it couples proof of dangerousness with proof of some additional factor, such as a "mental illness'' or "mental abnormality,'' see, e.g., Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 314-315, 113 S.Ct. 2637, 2639-2640, 125 L.Ed.2d 257, for these additional requirements serve to limit confinement to those who suffer from a volitional impairment rendering them dangerous beyond their control. The Act sets forth comparable criteria with its precommitment requirement of "mental abnormality'' or "personality disorder.'' Contrary to Hendricks' argument, this Court has never required States to adopt any particular nomenclature in drafting civil commitment statutes and leaves to the States the task of defining terms of a medical nature that have legal significance. Cf. Jones v. United States, 463 U.S. 354, 365, n. 13, 103 S.Ct. 3043, 3050, n. 13, 77 L.Ed.2d 694. The legislature is therefore not required to use the specific term "mental illness'' and is free to adopt any similar term. Pp. ____-____.

2.The Act does not violate the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition or its ban on ex post facto lawmaking. Pp. ____-____.

(a) The Act does not establish criminal proceedings, and involuntary confinement under it is not punishment. The categorization of a particular proceeding as civil or criminal is a question of statutory construction. Allen v. Illinois, 478 U.S. 364, 368, 106 S.Ct. 2988, 2991-2992, 92 L.Ed.2d 296. Nothing on the face of the Act suggests that the Kansas Legislature sought to create anything other than a civil commitment scheme. That manifest intent will be rejected only if Hendricks provides the clearest proof that the scheme is so punitive in purpose or effect as to negate Kansas' intention to deem it civil. United States v. Ward, 448 U.S. 242, 248-249, 100 S.Ct. 2636, 2641-2642, 65 L.Ed.2d 742. He has failed to satisfy this heavy burden. Commitment under the Act does not implicate either of the two primary objectives of criminal punishment: retribution or deterrence. Its purpose is not retributive: It does not affix culpability for prior criminal conduct, but uses such conduct solely for evidentiary purposes; it does not make criminal conviction a prerequisite for commitment; and it lacks a scienter requirement, an important element in distinguishing criminal and civil statutes. Nor can the Act be said to act as a deterrent, since persons with a mental abnormality or personality disorder are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of confinement. The conditions surrounding confinement-essentially the same as conditions for any civilly committed patient-do not suggest a punitive purpose. Although the commitment scheme here involves an affirmative restraint, such restraint of the dangerously mentally ill has been historically regarded as a legitimate nonpunitive objective. Cf. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 747, 107 S.Ct. 2095, 2101-2102, 95 L.Ed.2d 697. The confinement's potentially indefinite duration is linked, not to any punitive objective, but to the purpose of holding a person until his mental abnormality no longer causes him to be a threat to others. He is thus permitted immediate release upon a showing that he is no longer dangerous, and the longest he can be detained pursuant to a single judicial proceeding is one year. The State's use of procedural safeguards applicable in criminal trials does not itself turn the proceedings into criminal prosecutions. Allen, supra, at 372, 106 S.Ct., at 2993-2994. Finally, the Act is not necessarily punitive if it fails to offer treatment where treatment for a condition is not possible, or if treatment, though possible, is merely an ancillary, rather than an overriding, state concern. The conclusion that the Act is nonpunitive removes an essential prerequisite for both Hendricks' double jeopardy and ex post facto claims. Pp. ____-____.

(b) Hendricks' confinement does not amount to a second prosecution and punishment for the offense for which he was convicted. Because the Act is civil in nature, its commitment proceedings do not constitute a second prosecution. Cf. Jones, supra. As this commitment is not tantamount to punishment, the detention does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, even though it follows a prison term. Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107, 86 S.Ct. 760, 15 L.Ed.2d 620. Hendricks' argument that, even if the Act survives the "multiple punishments'' test, it fails the "same elements'' test of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306, is rejected, since that test does not apply outside of the successive prosecution context. Pp. ____-____.

(c) Hendricks' ex post facto claim is similarly flawed. The Ex Post Facto Clause pertains exclusively to penal statutes. California Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 505, 115 S.Ct. 1597, 1601, 131 L.Ed.2d 588. Since the Act is not punishment, its application does not raise ex post facto concerns. Moreover, the Act clearly does not have retroactive effect. It does not criminalize conduct legal before its enactment or deprive Hendricks of any defense that was available to him at the time of his crimes. P. 2086.

259 Kan. 246, 912 P.2d 129, reversed.

THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS and SOUTER, JJ., joined, and in which GINSBURG, J., joined as to Parts II and III.

Carla J. Stovall, Topeka, KS, for petitioner in No. 95-1649.

Thomas J. Weilert, Wichita, KS, for petitioner in No. 95-9075.

Justice THOMAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1994, Kansas enacted the Sexually Violent Predator Act, which establishes procedures for the civil commitment of persons who, due to a "mental abnormality'' or a "personality disorder,'' are likely to engage in "predatory acts of sexual violence.'' Kan. Stat. Ann. §59-29a01 et seq. (1994). The State invoked the Act for the first time to commit Leroy Hendricks, an inmate who had a long history of sexually molesting children, and who was scheduled for release from prison shortly after the Act became law. Hendricks challenged his commitment on, inter alia, "substantive'' due process, double jeopardy, and ex post facto grounds. The Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the Act, holding that its pre-commitment condition of a "mental abnormality'' did not satisfy what the court perceived to be the "substantive'' due process requirement that involuntary civil commitment must be predicated on a finding of "mental illness.'' In re Hendricks, 259 Kan. 246, 261, 912 P.2d 129, 138 (1996). The State of Kansas petitioned for certiorari. Hendricks subsequently filed a cross-petition in which he reasserted his federal double jeopardy and ex post facto claims. We granted certiorari on both the petition and the cross-petition, 518 U.S. ----, 116 S.Ct. 2522, 135 L.Ed.2d 1047 (1996), and now reverse the judgment below.

I
A

The Kansas Legislature enacted the Sexually Violent Predator Act (Act) in 1994 to grapple with the problem of managing repeat sexual offenders. 1 Although Kansas already had a statute addressing the involuntary commitment of those defined as "mentally ill,'' the legislature determined that existing civil commitment procedures were inadequate to confront the risks presented by "sexually violent predators.'' In the Act's preamble, the legislature explained:

" [A]...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2316 cases
  • Bimber's Delwood, Inc. v. James, 20-CV-1043S
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of New York
    • 21 Octubre 2020
    ...of rights-challenges to emergency public health measures"). Jacobson thus remains good law. See, e.g., Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 356-57, 117 S. Ct. 2072, 138 L. Ed. 2d 501 (1997) (recognizing that under Jacobson, "an individual's constitutionally protected interest in avoiding phys......
  • Temple-Inland, Inc. v. Cook, Civ. No. 14-654-GMS
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Delaware
    • 28 Junio 2016
    ...Court of Chancery). Other courts have found these facts sufficient to infer a civil intent. See, e.g. , Kansas v. Hendricks , 521 U.S. 346, 361, 117 S.Ct. 2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997) (finding that state's intent to create a civil proceeding was evidenced by act's placement in the civil cod......
  • People v. Dryg
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 19 Marzo 2012
    ...States, 515 U.S. 389, 396, 115 S.Ct. 2199, 2204, 132 L.Ed.2d 351 (1995) (emphasis and internal quotation marks omitted)." (Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) 521 U.S. 346, 369 .) The double jeopardy clause protects "against the imposition of multiple criminal punishments for the same offense [citat......
  • State v. CM
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 5 Mayo 1999
    ...this Court should apply a form of the standard recently discussed by the United States Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 117 S.Ct. 2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997). In Hendricks, the United States Supreme Court upheld Kansas's "Sexually Violent Predator Act" against a claim th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • High Court Should Reverse 4th Circ.’s Flawed FCA Ruling
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • 11 Marzo 2014
    ...United States Code "codifies the federal criminal laws." Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497, 519 (1956); see also Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 361 (1997) (stating that legislatures demonstrate whether a statute is criminal or civil based on whether the legislature codifies the statu......
91 books & journal articles
  • Punishing with impunity: the legacy of risk classification assessment in immigration detention
    • United States
    • Georgetown Immigration Law Journal No. 36-1, July 2021
    • 1 Julio 2021
    ...supra note 6, at 833. 40. Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 690 (2001); Foucha v. Louisiana, 504 U.S. 71, 80 (1992); Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 356 (1997). 41. Zadvydas , 533 U.S. at 690 (quoting Foucha , 504 U.S. at 80); Hendricks , 521 U.S. at 357. 42. See Wong Wing v. United State......
  • Liberty interests in the preventive state: procedural due process and sex offender community notification laws.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 89 No. 4, June 1999
    • 22 Junio 1999
    ...v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 747 (1987) ("There is no doubt that preventing danger to the community is a legitimate regulatory goal."). (7) 521 U.S. 346 (8) Id. at 356 (quoting Foucha v. Louisiana, 504 U.S. 71, 80 (1992)). (9) See id. at 360. Justice Ginsburg was the sole dissenter on the ques......
  • There Ain't No End for the 'Wicked': Implications of and Recommendations for § 4248 of the Adam Walsh Act After United States v. Comstock
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review No. 97-2, January 2012
    • 1 Enero 2012
    ...freedom of the dangerously mentally ill’— including those who are sexually dangerous .” Id. (emphasis added) (quoting Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 363 (1997)). 108. Id. ; see also supra note 55 and accompanying text. 109. Id. ; s ee also Emily Eschenbach Barker, Note, The Adam Walsh A......
  • Rules of Statutory and Legal Interpretation
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2020 Contents
    • 16 Agosto 2020
    ...challenging the statute provides the clearest proof that the statute is actually criminally punitive in operation. Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 117 S.Ct.2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997); Rodriguez. To evaluate whether the effects of a statute are criminally punitive, courts generally cons......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT