COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The state of South Carolina will be spending up to $45 million to make sure sexually violent predators are kept behind bars even after they’ve served their prison sentences. The state’s Fiscal Accountability Authority on Tuesday approved borrowing up to that much to build a new prison for the Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program.
That program is now housed in a separate building inside the Broad River Correctional Institution. The new facility will be at what’s now Stevenson Correctional, which is nearby. The main building at Stevenson, built in 1938, will be torn down and replaced with two new buildings. Three other buildings that are part of that current prison will be remodeled.
There are 184 predators in the program now and state officials expect to run out of room at the current facility next year. The new prison will hold up to 500.
While the special prison is at the Department of Corrections, the state Department of Mental Health runs the treatment program. Agency deputy director Mark Binkley says a state law passed in 1998 allows the state to keep predators locked up after their sentences are over if a judge or jury decide that they’re a danger to the public.
“They’re committed for an indefinite period of time, but A) they have to have an annual review, a clinical review, which goes to the court, and B) they can petition at any time for a hearing for release,” he says. He says the U.S. Supreme court ruled in 1998 that a Kansas law was constitutional, so South Carolina and other states passed similar laws.
Sexually violent predators are serial rapists, child molesters, anyone who’s committed a sexually violent crime. They’re sent to the program for additional mental health treatment.