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Would you repeatedly hire the same plumber to fix the same leaky faucet? How much patience would you have with an ineffective plumber? How much money would you be willing to spend for a plumber who couldn’t fix your leaky faucet?

Missouri taxpayers spend upwards of $35,000,000 per year on an overly expensive ineffective program called Sex Offender Civil Commitment. Missouri is one of twenty states that have sex offender civil commitment statutes. The thirty (30) other states, once they realized the exorbitant cost of this ineffective program, chose not to enact sex offender civil commitment laws. What do citizens in those 30 states know that citizens in Missouri don’t? Many say that if Missouri citizens knew the truth about civil commitment they would be beating down the legislatures’ front door demanding the statute be repealed.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health wastes nearly $400 every day to confine each of the approximately 250 civilly committed former sex offenders. Apparently they don’t have to justify the ineffectiveness of the program or their exorbitant spending, at least not until Missouri citizens hold them accountable.

So how did this happen to a program that seemed like such a good idea back in 1999? The initial plan was to place the worst of the worst, most dangerous, sex offenders into the program. The former sex offenders would participate in intensive treatment programs, then process back into society in five to ten years. The original cost estimate for the program was “wishful thinking” as was the 5 to 10 year reintegration.

Missouri sex offender civil commitment began in 1999, but in 2006 the legislature passed a bill which totally eliminated the possibility of discharge or unconditional release from commitment. So no matter how well a former sex offender does in treatment they will always be under the care and control of the Department of Mental Health for the rest of their lives. Men in their 20’s face potentially sixty (60) years in civil commitment, forever, and at taxpayers’ expense.

SORTS, the Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services, where the civilly committed are warehoused, keeps men well beyond the time originally intended. Elderly men, who are no longer dangerous, remain banished from society and families to spend their remaining few years in the Department of Mental Health. Dr. Joseph Plaud, Ph.D., noted expert in sexual recidivism, testified, “Age is the single, potent, dynamic, risk factor, short of death, that we have right now in the prediction to reoffend. So few men in the sixties, even those with histories of multiple sex offenses, reoffend as to make the recidivism rate of this group of men approach zero statistically.”

The Missouri Sex Offender Civil Commitment Program does not work, never has, and, unfortunately, never will. When we civilly commit those we are still mad at along with those who are actually dangerous, we must be ready to close down many beneficial programs to pay for our emotional responses. How many children will go without free school lunches because funding was diverted to pay for ineffective civil commitment? How many homeless veterans won’t receive the care and treatment they have earned? How many elderly Missourians will lose medical coverage because the state decided to continue throwing good money after bad into a program that simply doesn’t work?

Citizens don’t forget that this is your money, not the politicians’ and certainly not the Department of Mental Health’s. Call, write, or email your State Senator and State Representative and tell them to do the right thing. Plug this black hole the state has been needlessly pouring money into for nearly twenty years.

Missouri, you deserve better.

Stan Schell

Farmington

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