“Release American Citizens from Double Jeopardy Punishment”

The following post is from a letter to Virginia State Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy from Dr. Bernida Thompson. 

Dear Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy,

You were great on the June 3rd Townhall. I appreciate your vigor for justice, especially for people of color.  I am an African American citizen, and my family along with countless others that are in your area are crippled by the unjust civil commitment law which keeps our sons, fathers, husbands, and loved ones tied up indefinitely with physical and psychological punishment for imaginary future sex crimes that they might commit.  I join the townhalls, and I bring attention to the fact that a vast number of men are being misused to create an underclass for the profit of civil commitment administration.  Many citizens committed their sex offense over 20 years ago. They served and completed their sentences.  They should be back with their families making good of their lives in the community.  Instead, the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Law kicked in at the end of their sentence, and the men were taken to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, which is a punitive shadow prison that is there to keep the men from committing future crimes.  No one should be punished as guilty of a possible future crime.  Furthermore, research shows clearly that sex offenses have a much lower recidivism rate than other crimes. 

The entire sex offender civil commitment scheme is costing VA tax payers over $70 million dollars a year.  This money could be used for helping Virginia with the pandemic, supplying victim services, restoring returning citizens, etc.  Why are we allowing the unscrupulous psychologists, attorney general’s office, lawyers, and VCBR administration to use this as their cash-cow for their own financial prosperity and at the cost of these men and their families?

As our delegate, I am asking that you please help stop this deceitful scheme. Seriously investigate the practice and the treatment of these men.  Talk to the men and their families.  Please use your power and correct research data to get these citizens released. We need a bill to end sex offender civil commitment.  These men have not committed any further crime.  I would appreciate your assigning someone from your staff to contact and work with me to have this done.


Bernida Thompson, Ed.D.


Dr. Thompson is a founding member of Just Future Project. Her son Mwando Amerson is currently civilly committed to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville VA. She is the principal of Roots Activity Learning Center which she founded in 1977. In 1999, She also founded the Roots Public Charter School. Dr. Thompson earned an Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) in early and mid-childhood education from Nova University.


  1. I do understand the stigma surrounded with sexual violent predator program. However, I am just asking for common sense legislation. Currently the SVP program has no time frames with anything. Also, the legislation is very grey, allowing large amounts of misuse and abuse of power. No one questions the methods, validity, or ethics of the individuals in control of this program. Individual can be detained without probable cause forever, have to undergo a psychological evaluation with the absence of a mental health crisis and/or sever symptoms, and without a criminal offense. All this is done without the evidence of a crime or mental health symptoms and before a court determining it is a true violation. The program does not allow for the individuals to question and/or advocate for their rights. It violates their civil rights and liberties in every form. Moreover, it is a misuse to the emergency custody order criteria VA code § 37.2-808.

    This program uses the “emergency custody order” (or ECO) criteria to detain individuals who over 50% of the time do not meet the criteria and have not committed a crime.

    It also is a violation of the 14th amendment to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law; nor deny person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. Furthermore, the 8th amendment the government shall not imposed curl and unusual punishments and prohibits imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for a crime after conviction. It is cruel and unusual to force an individual to mental health treatment with the absence of a mental health crisis or sever mental health symptoms. To detain someone without a validate crime and/or probable cause and for an undetermined time is also a violation of due process again a violation of an individual civil rights.

    To have a time restraint on the ECO used to detain an individual to ensure due process.

    To have a mental health crisis and/or presentation of severe mental health symptoms a requirement for an ECO.

    To have the violation/ECO confirmed prior to enforcing a psychological evaluation without severe mental health symptoms.

    Lastly to be very clear with writing of this grey legislation that is being currently used to abuse and violate individuals’ civil rights and liberty without legal evidence and cause.

  2. Hi Dr. Thompson,
    I’m also in shock a week before my son was supposed to be release from prison after servicing 10 years straight. Just sent him to VCBR, as well. My heart drop, this is insane and crudity, how the system do this, when they have real rapist criminals out there, and still out there doing crimes. My son is not that person, whom they claim him to be. Heck! They have people taking people life’s, and only get 5years..If you have serve your time, they should be release to their love ones. what happen to the 14 Amendment. This is not rehabilitation any body. They are not God! They just can’t say he will re-offend again.. He served his time without any trouble in the prison at all.
    Thank you;
    Cheryl Killion

  3. Stephen Dunford

    I was a resident of VCBR for over 10 years. I was released on May 22, 2018. I have been in the community now for a little over 2 years. I have not had any incidents in the community that have warranted violating probation or being sent back to VCBR. I saw both good and bad at VCBR. More bad than good. I started out as a horrible “inmate” there. But I finally got my act together and successfully completed the program in about 2 years. I now live on my own, in my own home, have more animals that I can shake a stick at”cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, dogs”. They are a big part of my life and keep me occupied so much. I’d love to share my story and be a part of this great project.

  4. Totally against public registry

    That’s wonderful. Has there been a reply? Any one person can make a difference in our plight to abolish civil commitment. Thank you Dr. Thompson

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