Virginia Rejects Private Bids to Operate State Sex Offender Facility


Virginia has rejected unsolicited bids by two companies to operate a state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed, says the Associated Press. State officials concluded that GEO Group, a private prisons operator based in Boca Raton, Fla., focused too much on incarceration and not enough on treatment. Liberty Healthcare Corp. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., scored better on treatment but would have charged the state $2.4 million a year more than it is spending to run the facility itself.

Therapy is a key issue because courts have ruled that the indefinite commitment of sex offenders after they have served their prison time is constitutional as long as the goal is treatment, not punishment. The state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services received the GEO and Liberty proposals in 2011 under a 2002 Virginia law authorizing public-private partnerships. The bids were rejected in January but had not been revealed publicly. The state treatment center was originally built to house 300 patients in private rooms, but the 2011 General Assembly ordered the department to double-bunk half the rooms to expand capacity to 450. The center now houses 327 and is projected to exceed capacity by 2016.

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