Invest In The Future
The detention and treatment of sex offenders represents a growing business opportunity for GEO and its competitors, who hope to score lucrative contracts from state officials looking to keep predators off the streets.
In this case, the facility that GEO wants to run is the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, a civil commitment center that houses and treats “sexually violent predators” who have already completed criminal sentences in a department of corrections facility but are deemed by a special court to be at risk of re-offending. Rather than being released at a predetermined date, these sex offenders are sent to VCBR to participate in what the state describes as “intensive treatment.” Their “eventual conditional release” from the center “is determined by their progress in treatment and reduction of re-offense risk.”
Is that not the most efficacious business model you ever saw, where they get to decide when their
inmates civil commitees are ready to cut loose? The worse job they do treating them, the more money they make off them. It doesn't get better than this.
Virginia’s civil commitment program has been operating for about a decade. It grew slowly at first, with fewer than a dozen new detainees per year. But in 2006, the General Assembly greatly increased the number of crimes that can qualify convicts for the program and also made changes to the evaluation process for identifying which of these offenders are sexually violent predators eligible for civil commitment. The result was an explosion in VCBR’s population.
Talk about a win-win. The legislature gets to show how tough it is by adding crimes to the mix, and GEO gets to warehouse them indefinitely under the fabulous legal fiction that it's not punishment, because that would be wrong, but to protect the good folk of Virginia while helping violent sexual predator, such a heinous public urinators bent on publicly urinating again, or 18-year-olds who have sex with 17-year-olds, recover from their sick and demented ways. Eventually, anyway.
Civil commitment is “the perfect market” for private detention companies, according to Michele Deitch, a criminal justice expert at the University of Texas’ LBJ School. “No one’s likely to want to close them down. The inmates probably aren’t getting out. You’ve got the growing population feeding into these civil commitment centers. I would imagine private prison companies see it as a fairly safe area for growth.”
Not even the iPad offers this level of investment security. We may run out of fossil fuels. Whole industries may be outsourced to third world countries, but we will always have people to hate, new crimes to add, defendants who are so reviled that no one will say "boo" about their being held in confinement on their three year sentence for another 50 years, Just to make sure.
So how does one establish a foothold in such a lucrative business?
GEO Group has long been active in Virginia politics. From 2003 to 2009, it donated a total of $84,600 to state-level politicians, mostly Republicans, according to data compiled by Influence Explorer.
In 2009, GEO contributed $28,000 to Republican Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign. Four years earlier, GEO gave more than $28,600 to the campaign of GOP gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore. GEO executives Jorge Dominicis and Wayne Calabrese each donated another $1,000 to Kilgore.
Both McDonnell and Kilgore have long been outspoken proponents of tough sex offender laws.
Because, you know, it's for the children. Isn't it worth it to you do protect the children? Of course, it's not like Virginia doesn't take seriously its duty of oversight to make sure private companies aren't just in it for the profit, but to truly benefit the fine citizens of the state.
The growth in VCBR’s population has contributed to swelling program costs. In 2005, Virginia’s civil commitment program received only $5.8 million; in 2011, the center spent $24.5 million, or about $91,000 for each of the 269 patients, according to the commission.
But the commission warned that the state should carefully consider whether private companies’ “profit motive” was appropriate for a civil commitment program.
“The incentive to make a profit tends to encourage efficiency and quick decision-making that often results in lower costs,” the commission explained. “However, the same profit motive could supersede treatment and safety considerations and lead to individuals being moved through treatment and then recommended for release before they are ready.”
A very serious concern, that the private operator would send violent predators home rather than keep them locked up like animals long after their sentences are finished, since they get paid by the number of people in their custody. Oh wait, it makes absolutely no sense at all. So what would militate in favor of a private company running civil commitment prisons?
Experts differ on whether privatization could potentially improve treatment. Eric Janus, the dean of the William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota, is a harsh critic of civil commitment. “This is a quintessential public function. This is the state exercising its most awesome power to deprive people of their liberty. I think there’s something inherently worrisome about the state turning that over to a private company,” Janus says.
But given the right mix of talent and funding, Janus thinks it is conceivable that private companies could do better than states and adds that “it’s hard to imagine anything that would make [state-run systems] worse.”
Finally, the ultimate rationale for the success of privatizing the booming sex offender commitment sector: The government is so incompetent that anything, even a private enterprise whose every motive runs in conflict with every rationale, nonsensical though they may be, would be better.
When it comes to investments, the metrics don't get any better than this. Who's in?
H/T Ed at Blawg Review