Commitment Center and the First Amendment

Commitment Center and the First Amendment

Aug 26, 2019 | 1 comment

A recent decision out of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals gives us a peek inside the Florida Civil Commitment Center. As the Opinion begins, “James Pesci is a detainee at the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC), a for-profit facility that houses sex offenders  involuntarily committed under Florida’s Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act. Pesci is not a prisoner; like the other roughly 600 residents of FCCC, he has already served out his prison sentence. Instead, he is involuntarily committed because the State has determined that he is a “sexually violent predator” likely to engage in future “acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care, and treatment.”

Even though his prison sentence expired years ago, Pesci remains confined in the FCCC and chooses to spend his time writing about conditions at the facility by authoring and circulating a newsletter about what takes place at the civil commitment center. Only the facility, through budget cuts, has limited his ability to print out the newsletter so he can share it with others, and no longer allows him to save digital copies on the facility computers so others can read it without the necessity of printing. Those confined there have also been the casualties of other budget cuts and tightening restrictions at the facility, including loss of internet access (remember, these are not people serving a sentence – this is not supposed to be punishment) and reductions in food and health care.

While Pesci loses this appeal, the opinion gives us insight into what it’s like for residents inside the Florida Civil Commitment Center.

Pesci v. Budz

NOTE: Pesci’s conviction was 20 years ago.

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