The Washington legislature's return to indeterminate sentencing corrects its original mistake of setting fixed sentences for sex offenders with no supervision after release. Unlike the present civil commitment system, indeterminate sentencing preventatively detains offenders in the criminal system, protects the public, and ensures more control over offenders following their prison terms. Indeterminate sentencing provides a more efficient and effective alternative to the civil commitment process. Section II will briefly discuss the progression of sex offender sentencing from the original parole system to the present changes, and why past structures were instituted and later modified or repealed. Furthermore, Section II will examine the distinctions between crimi- nal indeterminate sentencing and civil commitment, outline the current state of sentencing for sex offenders, and discuss why sex offenders merit disparate sentencing treatment. Section III will then address the changes under the new law, how this sentencing will work, and why this new sentencing scheme will provide a rational system.
Jennifer M. McKinney, Washington State's Return to Indeterminate Sentencing for Sex Offenses: Correcting Past Sentencing Mistakes and Preventing Future Harm, 26 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 309 (2002).