Friday, December 29, 2006

Sexually Violent Predators Stay Locked Up For Now

Atwood v. Vilsack, No. 05-0485 (Iowa Dec. 29, 2006).

In Atwood the U.S. District Court certified to the Iowa Supreme Court the following question:

Are pretrial detainees awaiting trial on sexually violent predator petitions entitled to bail?

Of course, the answer was no. One wonders why this ever got as far as it did. The Court did its thing, digging through the legislative history of Iowa Code section 229A, the common law, and the constitutions of the state and the Union.

What's interesting about this case is how the litigants stack up. On one side we had the usual suspects-the attorney general and his henchmen. On behalf of the plaintiffs we have the Iowa Civil Liberties Union.

With all due deference to my equally liberal colleagues over there, including Bob Stone (I refuse to call him Ben), these guys would be appalled if loaded revolvers and shotguns were placed on every park bench by order of the court, or every thug was entitled to own a combative rottweiler and set it loose on the playground without a leash

The fact is, the folks who are section 229A detainees are damned dangerous people-they've proved it again and again, they probably can't be cured of their predilection with the state of our knowledge, and that's why they're where they are and where they'll stay for the foreseeable future. They're society's equivalent to rabid dogs-we don't know what to do with them, we can't cut them loose, and we can't euthanize them either, but to argue that they should be turned loose is the very legerdemain.

They're ticking time bombs, and they ought to stay right where they are.


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