Sexual Psychopath Laws


Episode 4 examines the Sexual Psychopath laws. First enacted in the late 1930s, Sexual psychopath laws were essentially diversion-like, civil confinement strategies developed to deal with sex offenders. The taboo nature of sex crimes, and the depravity often associated with them, led many to perceive that the individuals who committed these acts suffered from some form of mental abnormality. Twenty-two states enacted sexual psychopath statutes and established programs. The psychiatric programs established under these statutes are today considered a dark moment in the history of psychiatry due to their inclusion of non-violent, non-contact offenders as well as the homosexual population. The last of these laws was repealed in the early 1980s, less than a decade prior to the enactment of the first sexually violent predator law.


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