September 21, 2010

Va. facility for sex predators to exceed limit in 2012

If sex offenders are the only danger to society, requiring them to be held beyond their criminal sentences, why have lawmakers defined other conduct as criminal and requiring a prison sentence, but not to be held beyond that? I do believe, that recidivism rates of non sex offenders prove they are a far more dangerous group after prison than sex offenders are. If this is not discrimination then why was it necessary to integrate schools, to have equal rights for both men and women, to require employers to treat all employees equally, to trteat all religions equally, etc etc etc?
9-21-2010 Virginia:

The number of Virginia criminals labeled "sexually violent predators" is growing at such a rate that it's straining both the budget for treating them and the capacity of a two-year-old facility built to hold them after they finish serving their sentences.

Built to hold 300 people, the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Nottoway County currently holds 214. By mid-2012, its population is expected to hit 356 and, five years after that, to 738, members of the House of Delegates Appropriation Committee were told Monday.

Offenders are sent to the $62 million rehabilitation center through a process known as civil commitment, which allows the state to confine certain criminals even after they've served their time. Before the center opened in 2008, some resided in a 48-bed treatment facility in Petersburg.

Now that the center is reaching its occupancy limits, there is talk of reopening that unit or another state building, possibly an old correctional unit, for more space.

Officials project that escalating costs will leave the facility with a roughly $25 million budget shortfall over the next two years. The current annual budget is nearly $16 million, up from less than $3 million in 2004.

Growth in the program appears to be linked to a 2006 law change. That year, the list of crimes that qualified someone as sexually violent was expanded from four - rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration and aggravated sexual battery - to 28.

That increased by 350 percent the number of people eligible for civil commitment, explained James W. Stewart III, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The number of people referred to the center jumped from about one a month to five or six times that.

Once there, residents remain at the facility until a finding is reached that they no longer pose a public threat, Stewart explained. Patients are assessed once in each of their first five years at the rehabilitation center and every other year thereafter. So far, seven have been released.

That indefinite term of confinement gives state Del. Rosalyn Dance the impression Virginia effectively has "set up another penal system."

"If we're going to give them life, let's call it life," said the Petersburg Democrat, who wondered if the state is "throwing these people into a dark hole" and then sinking money into it.

Mary Devoy, an advocate for modifying some of Virginia's sex crime laws, believes some statutes designed to punish offenders go too far. She argued that in their zeal to target pedophiles and rapists - "the true threats to society" - lawmakers have enacted rules which can leave a lifetime stigma on teens convicted of underage consensual sex, for example.

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith defended Virginia's laws - including the 2006 expansion and the 1999 civil commitment statute he successfully carried - as tools designed to punish and reform repeat offenders with a pattern of aberrant behavior.

The commitment process has been an effective vehicle to determine which offenders have a high likelihood of committing new crimes, said Griffith, a Salem Republican and advocate for curbing sex crimes against children. "Releasing them out on the street is not an option for me." ..Source.. Julian Walker
The Virginian-Pilot

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The number of Virginia criminals labeled "sexually violent predators" is growing.

The italics in this statement are in the wrong place. It should read, The number of Virginia criminals "LABELED" sexually violent predators is growing. The key word here is definitely the word "labeled". Who does the "labeling"? What criteria determines this "labeling"? "Labels" are easy to paste on people and have caused more problems (and even wars) than we would care to admit. It's easier to just paste a "label" on someone and throw them in a category than it is to actually get to know them and, in our cases, to find out what "specific" deeds were actually done and treat each person individually instead of grouping everyone together under one heinous flag, "sexually violent predator".