Use of stats to assess sex offenders upheld

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The state Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly upheld an evaluation tool used to help determine whether people are sexually violent predators, though the chief justice questioned whether it smacked of communist-style cruelties. In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled that experts can rely on a statistical analysis of other sex offenders when determining whether they believe a particular sex offender is likely to commit more sexual crimes if released from prison. That expert testimony ultimately can be weighed by a jury, which under Missouri law can civilly commit someone as a "sexually violent predator" to the custody of the state Department of Mental Health after his criminal prison sentence ends. The actuarial tools, used in Missouri and other states, look at the percentage of people with characteristics similar to those of the defendant. [...]

In a sharply worded dissent, Wolff [Chief Justice] suggested that the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had misused its mental health system to lock up enemies of the state.

source: 'Use of stats to assess sex offenders upheld';;; 14 February 2007