Nushawn Williams, a drug dealer and sex offender is known to have infected numerous girls and women with HIV. According to the New York Police, he had unsafe sex with as many as 48 women in Chautauqua County and at least 28 in New York City. The story does not end here. He was previously involved in drug paddling and street crimes that handed him three convictions as well. He pleaded guilty to the charges of statutory rape and a tally of two incidents recklessly endangering two girls with virus.
Having served his maximum sentence for 12 years, the Attorney General moved to retain him in customer under the ambit of three-year 0old state law that allows for civil confinement of sex offenders. Civil confinement law which was passed in New York according to which sex offenders can be kept imprisoned further once they have served their punishment. The law allows confinement of sex offender with a view that such criminals may pose danger to themselves or to society following their release. As one political commentator aptly puts “When the most dangerous sexual predators are due to leave prison…officials can revoke their freedom and toss them into mental hospitals indefinitely.”(Cooper, 29)
Such a law was put in place because the offenders such as Williams show signs of psychological disorder caused by their inability to control their behavior and actions. Nevertheless, the court will have to prove that the offenders are really reeling from mental illness. In Kansas vs. Crane in 2002, the court ruled through evidence that hints at offender’s lack of self-control, he or she cannot be released after completing their sentence.(Shevory, 68)
Though the law remains a heated subject of debate among lawmakers and politicians yet the argument in the favor of such law is a cogent one. The lawyer of Williams maintained that he should not be kept in civil confinement because at the time he pleaded this law was not enacted as such. In my view, the case of Williams proved to be an eye-opener for the American society as it gained wider attention in media and sparked hot debate. The question whether spreading HIV can be referred to as a crime is indeed an intriguing one. The law in this respect also permitted authorities to reveal the names of HIV-positive men and women. Some say that it will cause reduction in HIV testing and increase in the social stigma of the affected ones. I believe this will serve to increase awareness about the dangers of HIV and to curb its spread.
The case of Williams also raised questions over the role of sex education in American high schools. As the New York Attorney General put it “the people who knowingly use HIVI AIDS as deadly weapon by purposely exposing others to the disease should be severely punished.”(Cooper,29) The findings reveal that Williams despite knowing that he was infected rather debunked this information as a lie.
It was found that he was an anti-social psychopath who showed no remorse over his misdeeds and looked to further sexual relationships with under-aged girls. In one instance in prison, Williams tossed his HIV-infected urine at another inmate saying he would want to infect more women with the disease after his release. Moreover, he did not take keen in any sex or drug treatment program. At this point, the need for the law of civil confinement becomes even more pronounced. He acted like a obsessive criminal and gangster in his imprisonment compelling the court to extend his prison.
In my opinion, the civil confinement is a well-grounded and cogent law but it serves two purposes: any toward incident that a criminal is likely to create after his release will be averted and secondly the mental rehabilitation of the criminal will take place with an aim to transform him into a sensible and law-abiding citizen.
Civil confinement is handed down after finding mental incompetence on the part of the criminal. The criminal then is confined to a mental institution in order to protect the criminal himself as well as others who can come into contact with him or her. Depending on the nature of the case and criminal’s psychological state the civil confinement becomes an outright necessity as in the case of Williams. Williams suffers from sexual abnormality and that is the reason why he never felt ashamed of his misdeeds therefore the law in this respect stands justified. More so, it will be plausible to keep him behind the bars for rehabilitation. Extreme measures should be taken in order to prevent spread HIV further.
Shevory, Thomas “Notorious H.I.V.: the media spectacle of of Nushawn Williams”
U of Minnesota Press, 2004