Just the usual politician beating his chest like an ape to say, "Look at me, see how tough I can be!"
By JOHN MONK
State says the violent inmates have never escaped facility off Farrow Road
Concerns over the housing in Richland County of more than 40 persons classified as violent sexual predators will be aired tonight in a public meeting at the Midlands Tech Northeast campus off Farrow Road.
The convicted sexual predators are now housed in a secure “care facility” off Farrow Road on the campus of the former Crofts-Farrow State Hospital, several miles north of downtown Columbia.
“This is a horrible place to have these people,” said Rep. Joe McEachern, D-Richland, who called the meeting. He represents that area of the county.
- Yeah, they should be at home with their husbands and/or wives and children. These are clearly people who have been civilly committed, so where else should they be?
Meadowlake Park’s recreation center, which attracts hundreds of children weekly, is close to the sexual predator facility, as is a child development center and a church, McEachern said.
However, state officials told The State newspaper that no inmate classified as a violent sexual predator has escaped from the facility since it began receiving such prisoners several years ago. The Farrow Road facility is behind a security fence and the building has various security features, including officers inside and outside at all times, according to the S.C. Department of Mental Health.
- So, if this is a civil commit center, are they calling these people prisoners? If so, then it's clearly an unconstitutional prison outside of prison.
Officials from the Attorney General’s office, the S. C. Department of Corrections and the S.C. Department of Mental Health are also expected to be on hand tonight.
The Farrow Road facility – called the Columbia Regional Care Center – is run by a private security company.
The Columbia Regional Care Facility began accepting the violent sexual offenders after a special unit designed for them at the Broad River Correctional Institution was filled to its capacity of 98.
Under a law passed by the General Assembly in 1998, the attorney general can seek a trial for certain people judged to be “mentally abnormal” with respect to sexually violent crimes, because these people pose a threat to the public. If a person is found to be a violent sexual predator, he is committed to a secure facility for long-term control, care and treatment. Under that law, convicted violent sex predators must be kept apart from other inmates.
- So it is a civil commitment center.
A court must determine that a violent sex predator no longer poses a threat to the public before he can be released.
Building a separate building to house a 200-bed facility for the Sexually Violent Predatory treatment program mandated by the 1998 law would cost “tens of millions of dollars,” according the Department of Mental Health.
McEachern said that at tonight’s meeting, he also wants to raise the question of whether allowing a private security company – instead of the government – to oversee a portion of the violent sex offender program makes the program any less transparent and accountable to the public.