COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The Department of Mental Health on Wednesday announced the opening of a new facility that will house violent sexual predators.
There have been more than 300 people committed to the Department of Mental Health since 1999 under the states Sexual Violent Predator Act.
“The law tries to distinguish between those offenders who don’t have personality or abnormalities that makes them likely to re-offend versus someone who has control and chose to re-offend, explained Mark Binkley, Department of Mental Health. “The idea that they have this disorder that makes them likely to re-offend, the state needs to correct that before they’re released.”
The Sexual Violent Predator Act requires those in the program to be housed separately from other mental health patients, so the Department of Health has been working to open a housing facility for those in the program for treatment.
“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 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,” said Binkley.
The new facility offers enhanced security measures like electronically locked doors and space for residents to undergo treatment.
Right now there are 197 people in the Sexual Violent Predator program.
There is no set time frame on when a resident can be released, however there is an extensive review process before an offender is released back into society.
The facility will have 254 beds so it exceeds the current needs of the state.
Right now, residents are being housed in an older unit on the grounds of the Broad River Correctional Institution.
The department hopes to have the residents in the new facility sometime in November.