Twenty minutes off the Puget Sound coast is an island that was the home to a state penitentiary until it closed in 2011. Now, it is used as a facility for the civil commitment of the state’s most violent sex offenders.
Residents wind up on McNeil when their prison terms have ended but a judge deems them still too dangerous for society. They’re placed indefinitely in what’s known as civil commitment — where in theory they’ll be treated until they no longer pose a threat. This could be a month or it could be forever.
It’s not an island paradise but it’s not a prison. VICE New Tonight sees what life is like for the residents.
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