Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Olympia Attorney General Chris Gregoire said today's 5-4 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a Sexually Violent Predator Law modeled after Washington's statute is a major milestone in restoring public confi dence in our system of justice.

In the case of State of Kansas v. Hendricks, the court declared a Kansas law that permits the indefinite civil com mitment of convicted sex offenders constitutional. The ruling validates Washington's law which has detained 51 of the state's most violent sex offenders for supervision, evaluation and treatment.

"Washington has led the country in finding appropriate ways to deal with violent sexual predators and I'm grati fied the high court recognized that states should be able to protect the community before violence occurs," said Gregoire. "The court recognized that like any other civil commitment case, these individuals can be confined until they are no longer a threat."

During oral arguments regarding Kansas sex offender Leroy Hendricks, Justice William Rehnquist asked, "So what's the state supposed to do? Wait till he does it again?".

"The legal system has worked," Gregoire noted. "Washington's citizens asked the same question and demanded an answer seven years ago when the Legislature adopted Washington's law. Fortunately, the high court agrees that this civil commitment approach is an appropriate solution to this troubling social dilemma."

The law was passed by the state Legislature in 1990 to address community concerns over the release of convicted sex offenders. It withstood a constitutional challenge in the State Supreme Court, and has kept the most violent sexual predators off the streets for a number of years.