High Court To Rule In Sex Offender Case

supreme court building
The Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday on whether a Washington state treatment center for sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences is really just another kind of jail, and as such, is unconstitutional.

The Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, Wash., is on the grounds of a medium-security prison protected by prison guards and accessible only by a prison-run ferry.

The 125 residents of the ten-year-old facility are confined inside razor wire fences and cannot be released without court permission.

The state argues that the center provides treatment which will eventually allow sex offenders to go free.

But so far, only 10 have been released.

Detention at the facility is being challenged by 59-year-old Andre Brigham Young, who completed in 1990 the last of his prison time for a series of rape convictions.

He argues that the treatment program at the facility is so inadequate it amounts to punishment, violating the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

In other action, the high court:

  • refused Monday to review a federal appeals court ruling which said that the state of Colorado wrongly classified a Colorado inmate as a sex offender and cannot deny him access to a therapy program which could earn him credit towards an early release from jail.
  • agreed to hear a Pennsylvania case on the rights on imates seeking money in lawsuits filed while they are behind bars. Inmate Timothy Booth claims to have been assaulted by prison staffers four times, in one case, by a guard who allegedly threw a cup of cleaning solution in his face. Booth is suing for damages, transfer to another prison, money for an operation, and improvements to the prison library. Pennsylvania state law forbids the payment of money damages to prisoners who win their grievances against the state.
  • denied three appeals from death row inmates, one in Kansas and two in Texas.
  • refused to consider a lawsuit seeking to overturn the $246 billion deal which settled government lawsuits against big tobacco. Two men had challenged the two-year-old settlement, on the grounds that it violated antitrust law.
  • refused to get involved in the case of a Florida teen-ager who was suspended from school for nine days for displaying the Confederate flag. Wayne Denno's lawsuit against the school board was thrown out and the Supreme Court was asked to hear the case on the grounds that his right to display the flag is more important than the school system's right to regulate his conduct.
  • asked the Justice Department to file a brief on whether it believes the state of Missouri should be allowed to ban the Ku Klux Klan from the state's Adopt-A-Highway program. The high court won't decide whether to hear arguments on the case until after it has read the Justice Department's brief.
  • refused to review a California appeals court ruling rejecting a request for a new trial for a man convicted on a cocaine charge. Isidro Samuel Reyes' attorney say the first trial was not fair because one of the jurors, who had consistently voted 'not guilty,' changed his vote to guilty as a result of flipping a coin during the trial's final lunch break. The appeals court ruled that one juror's coin toss is not the same thing as the whole jury using that method to determine the final verdict.
  • heard arguments over whether the feds can be sued to force payment of damages to owners of property damaged by federal irrigration projects, in this case, a grove of pistachio trees hurt by a leak in a canal.
  • heard arguments on whether the Potawatomi Indian tribe in Oklahoma, which is involved in a dispute with a contractor over a bank construction project, can be sued.
  • handed a defeat to mega-millionaire businessman and philanthropist Walter Annenberg, who was seeking a refund on taxes paid in compliance with a Pennsylvania law which was later ruled discriminatory.

CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report