Missouri maintains a special mental health unit at the Farmington state prison to hold violent sexual predators. But a growing population is forcing the department to hold people elsewhere.
Since 1999 Missouri courts have been able to order sex offenders who appear to still be dangerous predators after finishing their prison terms to referred to the mental health department for more treatment. There’s no limit on the time for that treatment.
State mental health director Keith Schafer says the program has 179 people. But Farmington is at capacity. The state division of design and construction estimates the cost of a larger sexual offender unit inside the Farmington prison would cost about $77 million, an amount that has led the department to consider alternatives.
To ease the problem, the department has 26 people being held in county jails awaiting commitment to the program, 126 in the intensive program at Farmington, and the rest the former high-security area at the Fulton State Hospital.
Only two people have ever been released in eleven years and the department opposed their releases. One was terminally ill. The other is under close supervision of the probation and parole division.