In New York state, the end of a criminal sentence for a sex offender doesn’t mean he goes free. In 2007, legislators took steps to protect the public from sexual predators, approving a civil commitment program designed to route dangerous sex offenders whose sentences are ending into treatment in secure state psychiatric facilities, says the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle in the first of a series.
Little thought was given to long-term costs or the likelihood that space for treatment could become an expensive dilemma. Only in its fourth year, civil commitment is already coping with cost and space strains. Since many offenders who are locked away are unlikely to be released for years, if ever, the costs will continue to escalate. The program is far costlier than imprisoning criminals: a civilly detained offender costs four times the spending for an inmate jailed in a state prison. New York’s average price tag to treat sex offenders in secured facilities – about $175,000 for each of 230 confined – makes it the costliest program of its kind in the U.S., slightly more than in California.