By Frank Green
The explosive population growth at Virginia’s treatment center for “sexually violent predators” is largely the result of a flawed selection process, says a new state study.
A review presented this morning by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission concluded that the program’s rate of growth can be slowed if a risk assessment method used to select the offenders is changed.
The Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Nottoway County holds rapists, child molesters and others who have completed their prison sentences but who the courts have deemed too dangerous to release because of the risk they will reoffend.
They can be civily committed and kept off the streets but only if they are receiving meaningful treatment, a requirement that makes the VCBR much more expensive than a prison.
When the VCBR began in 2003, it was not projected to reach 100 residents until 2013. Instead, the population is now 282 – at a cost of $91,000 a year each -- and will soon reach the 300-bed capacity of the $62 million facility in Nottoway.
Growth at the center took off after 2006 when the number of eligible crimes was increased from four to 28 and a new assessment instrument, the so-called “Static 99,” was adopted as the initial tripwire for commitment consideration.
The unforeseen growth prompted the JLARC study released today. The commission, however, will not vote on whether to adopt it until its Dec. 4 meeting.