RD446 - Sexually Violent Predator Referrals, Commitments and Bed Utilization Forecast for FY 2021 to FY 2026 – October 19, 2020
Pursuant to budget language, staff from the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS) collaborate with staff from the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to develop a forecast of the number of individuals who will be involved in Virginia’s sexually violent predator (SVP) civil commitment and conditional release programs. The forecast is revised each year and adjustments are made based on changes in historical trends and any new developments related to the SVP process. Reviewing this data annually provides an opportunity to learn from the comparison of prior forecasts with actual outcomes, anticipate potential changes in the system, and prepare or respond to changes by allocating resources accordingly. Included in this review are system changes that may affect the census of the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation (VCBR).
Several variables that influence the projected VCBR census are regularly reviewed for the purpose of this forecast and are discussed later in this report. However, it is not possible to predict every variable that may either positively or negatively impact the SVP system and VCBR census outcomes with complete accuracy. The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of a variable that could not have been predicted and has had a significant impact on the SVP system. Further, there is no way to know how long these issues will continue and what permanent effect, if any, there may be on future operations. This has led to concern that the data for fiscal year 2020 is significantly skewed and unreliable for the purpose of forecasting. As such, the DOC, DBHDS, and the OAG are in agreement to utilize the numbers from last year’s forecast for this year. These numbers are likely a better representation of what may occur once all agencies involved in the SVP system are able to return to normal operations.
Based on this determination, this forecast suggests that the VCBR census may continue to grow over the upcoming six years but at a slower rate than anticipated in previous years and may reach approximately 520 by June 30, 2026. Several factors have contributed to this slower growth including a decrease in the number of SVP eligible offenders projected for release from the DOC over the next six years and a sustained relatively high rate of individuals being approved for conditional release. As of the date of this report, Virginia continues to have the highest rate of conditional releases from a SVP civil commitment facility in the country. Despite this, the lack of community resources and alternatives to secure confinement continues to contribute to census increases. For more information, the reader is directed to the report submitted to the General Assembly dated October 1, 2020, “Program and Community Alternatives to Reduce SVP Civil Commitment". Investment in community-based resources would help sustain slower growth, provide a continuum of treatment and supervision, and offer less costly alternatives to secure confinement.