Timendequas, et al. v. Brown, et al.

The Court assigned the ACLU-NJ to serve as counsel in a case involving the due process rights of sex offenders who complete sentences at Avenel (New Jersey's sex offender prison) and are then directly committed to the Sex Offender Commitment Unit at Kearny under the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Statute. The case presents three key due process violations. First, Avenel psychiatrists discuss an offender's treatment with the psychiatrists who make the determination of whether to commit the offender to Kearny. This runs counter to an Appellate Division decision that prison psychiatrists owe a duty of care to their clients that includes confidentiality, even against disclosure to prison authorities (unless there is a threat of future harm to an identifiable person). Second, the prisoners are transferred to the Kearny Unit without first having a hearing to challenge the initial commitment papers. We claim that, pursuant to New Jersey court precedent, a pre-deprivation, rather than a post-deprivation, hearing is required. Third, it appears that a much greater number of inmates are being committed than statistics show are actually a danger. While statistics show that only 9% of sex offenders released from Avenel commit another crime, the State is committing 35% of Avenel inmates upon completion of their sentences. As such, the burden of proof on the government should be heightened from a "clear and convincing" standard to a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard so that an inordinate number of people are not improperly denied their right to freedom from restraints. The case will now proceed in the discovery phase.

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