Committing sex offenders is costly, not very effective

By The Daily News

Douglas Allen Alsteen, a repeat sex offender, has done his time. Now he's back in a Cowlitz County courtroom, facing the possibility of indefinite confinement at Washington's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

The violent sexual predator law state prosecutors are hoping will keep Alsteen locked away continues to stir controversy 17 years after its enactment. Critics say the law smacks of double jeopardy and fails to accomplish its expressed purpose, which is to treat violent sex offenders until they no longer pose a threat to society.

According to a recent New York Times report on costs at McNeil Island and civil-commitment facilities at the 18 other states that enacted laws modeled on Washington's, this state pays an average of $127,632 anually for each person committed under the law. That compares to $29,055 annually for each prison inmate. Washington's civil commitment program now has 266 residents. It's budget for fiscal 2007 totals $45 million. Full Story

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