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May 26, 2009

Governor Jindal unwilling to take on costs of sex offender confinement proposals

This local AP story out of Louisiana provides yet another example of how tight budget times will always put a squeeze on efforts to get extra tough on criminals.  This AP piece is headlined "Jindal administration scraps key sex offender bill," and here are excerpts:

Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration scrapped the centerpiece of his sex offender proposals on Tuesday after deciding the post-prison "civil commitment" program would be too expensive, a health department spokeswoman said.

Lauren Mendes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Hospitals, said the proposal was dead for the current legislative session.  "It is a concept that DHH and the governor's office do support and will revisit when it's more financially viable for Louisiana," she said.

Rep. Fred Mills' bill would have provided treatment for certain sex offenders after their release from prison. Mills said the program would require about $12 million over five years — for surveillance equipment, medication and psychiatric evaluations — an expensive price tag in a year of budget cuts.

The idea was geared toward offenders deemed most likely to commit more crimes after being released. Jindal is backing several bills this year to crack down on sex offenders, but Mills' was the most ambitious....

Mills said initial estimates for the civil commitment program — $26,000 annually per sex offender — turned out to be low compared to a similar program in Texas. Most sex offenders in the program would also require the treatments for life, Mills said, compounding the future costs.

Mills told the House Appropriations Committee that he agreed with the governor's office and DHH that the bill is too costly.  "Between all of us, we got together and said, 'It's a good policy, but let's try it another year,'" said Mills, D-Parks.

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Comments

Yeah, he's quick to kill someone else's bill, but he loves to use sex offenders as his scapegoat to get him brownie points by the people, and to "look tough" on crime. It will be a good day, when he is out of office, IMO.

Posted by: Sex Offender Issues | May 26, 2009 7:49:16 PM

SOI. "to use sex offenders as his scapegoat to get him brownie points by the people, and to "look tough" on crime."

I can't think of any other use for sex offender laws, can you?

Posted by: Daniel | May 26, 2009 8:18:15 PM

123D.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 26, 2009 9:21:14 PM

I thought the 'for the children' laws were worth it no matter the cost. After all 'if one child is saved then its all worth it'.

Posted by: MarkM | May 26, 2009 9:32:35 PM

The $26,000 figure is pure fantasy - Virginia's sex offender civil commitment program costs $180,000 a year per resident according to the most recent Auditor's Report.

If I had to guess, they based their estimate on the cost per prison inmate - however, civil commitment for treatment is way more expensive, much closer to the cost per patient at a state hospital (in Virginia, that is $197,000 per year).

Posted by: Zack | May 27, 2009 9:48:44 AM

Just a couple of random thoughts on cost-cutting from a lowly non-lawyer.

1. If sex offenders can be treated, then start treating them the day they walk into prison. Why wait until they have sat in prison for 10 or 20 years, during which time they may have been beaten or raped by people who know what they've done, or possibly spent years in solitary confinement (excuse me, "protective custody") for their own protection? I realize that they have to admit their crimes as part of treatment, and many of them don't want to do that (occasionally because they're not guilty??), but they have to do that to be treated at the civil commitment center, too.

2. Don't waste money sending people to prison and making them participate in expensive sex offender registration programs for crimes such as mooning, streaking, and urinating behind a carry-out when they're drunk or homeless. Don't automatically assume everyone who is accused of child molestation by an angry ex-spouse or a troubled child is guilty. At least try to find some evidence other than one person's say-so. Don't lock up and register teenagers who have (admittedly ill-advised) sex with their boy/girlfriends. At least give the parents a chance to try to work it out. The phenomenon of the registered sex offender who is now married to the boy/girlfriend and has three kids but isn't allowed to live anywhere is obscene.

3. In reference to the recent Supreme Court decision on the cocaine purchase, create some incentive (or sanction) to encourage prosecutors not to search for creative ways to lock people up for ridiculously long amounts of time when there is no public safety reason to do so.

Posted by: disillusioned layman | May 27, 2009 9:53:24 AM

Addendum to Item 3 above: "Because I can" isn't normally a valid excuse for the rest of us, and it shouldn't be for prosecutors, either.

Posted by: disillusioned layman | May 27, 2009 9:57:38 AM

When do you feel it is ok for a sex offender, has molested and raped his own child to be released from jail and why. When there is an enormous amount of evidence.

Posted by: Katielang | Jan 9, 2011 10:47:15 PM

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