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February 22, 2011

Virginia struggle with costs of sex offender civil commitment

GR2011022105146 The Washington Post has this lenthy new article on sex offender civil commitment headlined "Cost to keep sexual offenders in check is escalating for Virginia." Here are excerpts:

Virginia launched its program to keep sexual predators locked up once their prison sentences ended after learning that a serial child rapist who had kidnapped and brutalized a boy and then buried him alive might go free.

Now, nearly a decade later, state legislators are struggling with the escalating cost of the program that has kept hundreds of dangerous felons detained at the same time the state is facing growing needs in education, health care and transportation.

As of January, 252 sexual offenders had been indefinitely committed, costing taxpayers more than $100,000 per felon every year. That population is expected to more than double within five years, causing even the program's biggest supporters to question whether the state can afford to keep so many sexual predators locked up for so long....

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has proposed spending nearly $70 million over the next two years to temporarily house an overflow of sexual predators at a Petersburg facility while renovating a mothball prison in Southside Virginia. But legislators in his party are balking at the cost.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates stripped most of the money out of the state budget, proposing instead that Virginia double bunk some offenders and ship others out of state. The Democratic-led Senate is backing the governor's plan. It is one of the biggest budget issues dividing the two chambers in the final days of Virginia's annual legislative session, which is scheduled to end Saturday....

Other states with commitment programs require that offenders have exhibited a pattern of sexually dangerous behavior before being committed, such as through multiple convictions, but in Virginia it only takes a single crime. A committee of corrections and mental health officials recommends candidates for commitment, and a judge makes the determination.... Those committed are held indefinitely, subject to annual reviews by doctors. Since the program began, 11 have been released.

Opponents say civil commitment programs - now in 20 states - could be used to keep violent criminals behind bars forever. "Certainly society has the right to protect themselves," said Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic. "But I hope this is not a ruse, under the pretense of treatment, for permanent detention."

Virginia has expanded the crimes eligible for civil commitment from four to 28, and the number of offenders admitted to the program has soared, from one a month, to six to eight a month. The cost is expected to hit $32 million next year - more than 10 times what it was eight years ago. And it's still not enough. The 300-bed Burkeville facility built in 2008 will be full by this summer.

February 22, 2011 at 09:29 AM | Permalink


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Well maybe it's time for the Government to rethink their commitment requirements. That seems to be the logical approach...This article hit the heart of the problem.."Other states with commitment programs require that offenders have exhibited a pattern of sexually dangerous behavior before being committed, such as through multiple convictions, but in Virginia it only takes a single crime"

The law that is only takes a one time offense to get a person civilly committed to me doesn't seem right. No one can look into the mind or heart of another person and say 100% for sure they will ever re-offender or not....not any sex offender expert and not any judges...there have been many changing views over the last 10 years about sex offenders and many of the changes show just how wrong the expert have been....

Maybe they should reword their commitment laws to follow suit with the other states that require a history of these offences...Maybe there should be a panel of say 4 or 5 experts in the field to hear these commitment cases and that a 3/4 majority of the experts must agree they need to be confined...

There a consequences to every action that everyone does...the cost to commit these people is one the Government should have looked into before they passed the law....not whine about it after....The old saying goes you made your bed now lay in it

Posted by: greg55 | Feb 22, 2011 9:48:56 PM

maybe so greg55 BUT no matter what the idiots on the U.S Supreme court said it's still ILLEGAL AFTER THE FACT.

There is still no way you or anyone else will ever convice me it's LEGAL under OUR Constituion that it's legel to

Find someone sane enough to charge
Sane enough to arrest
sane enough to arrange a trial
sane enough to HAVE the trial
sane enough to get a conviction
sane enough to be given a sentence
sane enough to SERVE that sentence

then ONLY once the sentence is done


sorry any idiot knows that is a NON-STARTER and an ILLEGAL CRIMINAL CONFINMENT!

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 23, 2011 11:39:19 AM

I find there to be a MAJOR deception made among the people. Where the "legal" authority comes in to expost facto a law, to make someone re-pay a debt. That law is blasphemous. Most "so called Christians" in the church, stand by and just say, "it's my job". I can't stop it.

I have one thing to say to them. If this is the God they serve, then I want no part of it or them. I worship a God who takes no excuses.

I would not have a problem if I was convicted of a sex crime (regardless of which one) and pay a penalty. BUT to then have a "law" forced among the "people" to re-punish others, is simply obnoxious. And yes I would then have a problem with it. They changed the law at their discretion, and put an unjust burden upon my soul.

At the least, the law should be decriminalized, or the "registry" be made non public.

God speed through the days to come.

Posted by: Michael | May 14, 2011 4:30:50 PM

I was one of those that the state tried to force into civil commitment in 1999. It is a farce that is being placed at the tax payers door steps. Me as an example would be one that you would be spending your money on as they (played) tried to help me. Been 13 years now and guess what, I haven't attacked anyone, but to hear the, so called "experts" I would have years ago. I will bet most in civil commitment are just like me NO danger at all, just a GREAT way for them to make a wonderful living off you- the tax payer!

Posted by: Offender | Jun 4, 2012 2:36:37 PM

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