A 2006 California law intended to crack down on sex offenders has proved a bonanza for a small group of private psychologists and psychiatrists, 14 of whom billed taxpayers last year for a half a million dollars or more each, reports the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been a boatload of money, to put it colloquially,” psychologist Shoba Sreenivasan said during court testimony. Working part time, she billed the state nearly $900,000 last year and at least $290,000 this year. A civil servant doing the same work earns $101,000 to $110,000 annually.
Passed by voter initiative in 2006, Jessica’s Law mandated evaluations for thousands more sex offenders than in the past, to determine whether their conditions warrant hospitalization after criminal sentences have been served. All told, evaluators hired by the state earned more than $24 million in 2007. It’s unclear, however, what benefit the investment has yielded. There’s been a nearly ninefold increase in evaluations and a threefold increase in recommendations for hospital commitment. The actual number of commitments has remained essentially the same — 41 in the 18 months before the law was passed, 42 in the 18 months afterward. Costs from Jessica’s Law are expected to rise to several hundred million dollars annually over the next eight years.