Eleven organizations sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday opposing offers by two companies to operate a Virginia state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed, reports the Associated Press. State officials are considering privatization as a way to control costs of the rapidly expanding civil commitment program at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville.
The state spends about $97,000 annually to treat each offender at the overcrowded, 300-bed facility – more than quadruple the cost of housing a prisoner. The program’s budget has increased tenfold since it started in 2004. “What is currently an overcrowded situation at VCBR could become dramatically worse if run by a company that increases its profits at the expense of programs and operations, including security,” the coalition of civil rights, labor, criminal justice reform and religious organizations said in its letter to McDonnell. The organizations said the companies that have submitted proposals have had problems running some facilities elsewhere. Virginia’s civil commitment program began its drastic growth spurt in 2006, when lawmakers expanded from four to 28 the number of crimes that would make an offender eligible.