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Indefinite prison for sexually violent predators may violate Constitution, California Supreme Court says

January 28, 2010 | 11:43 am

The California Supreme Court decided 5 to 2 today that a 2006 ballot initiative that permits the state to lock up sexually violent predators indefinitely may violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

The ruling, written by Justice Carlos R. Moreno, did not strike down the measure.

Instead, the court said a fact-finding hearing must be held to determine whether valid reasons exist for treating sex predators differently from others subject to civil confinement, such as mentally disordered offenders.

Justice Ming Chin, joined by Justice Marvin Baxter, dissented.

"Whether sexually violent predators present a distinct danger warranting unique remedies is for society to determine, not a trial judge," Chin wrote.

-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco