The Department of Mental Health is beefing up its treatment of sexually violent predators. DMH announced the opening of a new facility that will house the sexual offenders.
Since 1999, when the General Assembly enacted the Sexually Violent Predator Act, more than 300 people have been committed to DMH under the law.
DMH explained the law.
“The law tries to distinguish between those offenders who don’t have personality or abnormalities that makes them likely to reoffend versus someone who has control and chose to reoffend. The idea that they have this disorder that makes them likely to reoffend that the state needs to correct that before they’re released,” said Mark Binkley.
So the department offers a series of treatments and reviews for those admitted into the program to measure their chances of repeating their offenses.
Binkley added, “People who are sex offenders and have trouble controlling their sexual urges, need treatment more in the way of changing their cognitive changing their outlook on of life.. their outlook on women and children. It’s talk therapy. It’s trying to get them to have insight into their deviant urges. it’s not like you can give them a medication to cure them.”
The SVPA requires those in the program to be housed separately from other mental health patients. So DMH has been working on opening a facility specifically for those in the program.
Current residents are housed at an older unit on the Broad River Campus of the Department of Corrections and are outgrowing the available space.
The new facility offers 254 beds, and enhanced security measures like electronically locked doors and treatment spaces.
There is no time frame for how long someone has to stay with the program. Right now there are 197 residents in the SVPTP.
The department is hoping to start moving residents into the new housing facility sometime in November.