||This article is outdated. (November 2010)
In the United States, sexually violent predator (SVP) laws permit states or the federal government to impose stringent requirements on sex offenders after their sentence has been completed if the person has a "mental abnormality" or personality disorder and who is likely to engage in sexual offenses if released. The offender may be forcibly committed to a mental facility after being released, or may be subject to stricter reporting requirements than other sex offenders. 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 2011, twenty states have passed Sexually Violent Predator legislation, and the legislation has also been upheld on the federal level in U.S. v. Comstock (2010).
In Pennsylvania, those seemed to be sexually violent predators must register with the state and report their addresses to the police every three months for the rest of their lives, as well as take part in court-approved counseling for the rest of their lives. By comparison, under Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law, nonviolent predators must only register for 10 years after their sentences are completed.