Dangerous Sex Offenders: A Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association

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From our regular book review column.

Although the official author of this book is the American Psychiatric Association, it was actually written by task force members who are experts in forensic psychiatry and on the topic of sex offenders: Howard Zonana, M.D., chair; Gene Abel, M.D.; John Bradford, M.D.; and Jeffrey Metzner, M.D. Honest citizens do not like criminals and, in particular, do not want sex offenders living in their communities. Outrage occurs when a sex offender has served his time and is released, only to molest another child or rape another woman. Several state legislatures have tried to prevent these tragedies by finding a way to civilly commit sexually violent predators to a psychiatric facility after they have served their criminal sentences. For example, a man might serve 10 years in prison for committing a rape. As he approaches his release date, the state may file a petition to have the man civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. A trial occurs, and the person may be civilly committed until a court determines that he is no longer dangerous.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(9):683