Virginia Lawmakers Call Shadow Prisons “Appalling”

Featuring Senator Joe Morrissey, Delegate Patrick Hope, and Delegate Don Scott with Moderator Gin Carter of the Humanization Project.

 

Transcript:

Gin Carter:

Just Future Project is one of the members of our coalition and they deal specifically, (Senator Morrissey I know you know them). They deal specifically with VCBR and if people don’t know what that is and what that’s about, I know I personally was completely appalled last year when I learned that VCBR is a place where if you were in prison for a “violent” sexual crime, when you get to the end of your prison sentence you can be continually detained. So you’ve served your time and they put you in a supposed mental health facility and then at that point that person is being… staying in prison basically (they don’t call it prison), staying in prison on a crime that they will supposedly commit in the future. I don’t know about all of you, but I think this is appalling and I have no idea how it’s legal. So with that said, Garnett I think you’re on here (or Kirsten). Whoever would like to ask one of your questions — I know you had a few questions — we only have a few more minutes but if you could ask whichever one is the most pressing for you that would be wonderful.

Garnett Robins-Baughman:

Well, I’m on so I’ll start. This is Garnett Robins-Baughman and I’m with Just Future Project. The Covid, and I apologize for reading it, the Covid-19 pandemic has put Virginia in financial straits. Getting back to what we were just talking about making mass incarceration including those imprisoned in the shadow prison of VCBR run by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for the Attorney General’s office, untenable.

The cost of incarcerating these citizens who have completed their prison terms is over $130,000.00 per person per year and that’s just what’s disclosed. Currently, 440 people… and more being added to fill an additional 258 cells. Virginia communities are desperate for real mental health and social services. What are you committed to doing to ensure that these funds are equitably distributed to the communities where they are needed the greatest, so true mental health and social health can occur?

Senator Joseph Morrissey:

Let me start. We’ve asked — I have asked — legislative services to draft a bill for the 2021 session to end this appalling situation of civil commitment. When I first heard about it I thought I’d seen all forms of violations of due process. Nothing shocked me more than to find out that there were people who have completed a 20-year sentence — they have served the maximum time: 17 years — and then they were being committed civilly.

Why? Because they might commit a civil crime. This involves sexual-aggravated sexual offenses. Let me just put this in proper perspective, Don — that’s like somebody who’s been in jail and they had committed 10 bank robberies okay, and then they’re getting ready to be released and somebody looks at their record and says:

“You know what, you have a propensity for committing bank robberies. I know you’ve just finished serving your time but we’re going to put you in another building that has bars on it that is to prevent you from realizing your liberty because you might commit another bank robbery. You might commit another grand larceny. You might possess another schedule one or two drug.”

It’s appalling! So, it violates every notion of due process that I can think of. So we’ve asked — I’ve asked my staff and I have asked legislative services — to draft legislation. Patrick and Don, hopefully we will get that out of the Senate and you will have an opportunity to vote in the House once and for all to end this appalling practice of civil commitment because somebody might commit a crime in the future.

Delegate Patrick Hope:

Well that bill will definitely save money because we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to operate VCBR right now to warehouse people, to your point, not for crimes they committed but for crimes that they might commit.  It should be declared to be unconstitutional, and to see them put themselves in… tie themselves in knots, the Attorney General’s office — Mark Herring’s office — to see how they put themselves in knots to make stuff up to to have these civil commitment hearings.  This whole process seems to be rigged to me and so we need to revamp our civil commitment process — we need to end it and release people.  This set of “sexually violent predators,” these criminals, these people are no more likely to reoffend than anyone else. Probably, in fact, they’re probably less likely to reoffend than most anyone else. And so we’re locking them up for what?  Out of fear, not out of facts, not about science… and we have to do something about it.

Senator Joseph Morrissey:

You know folks, my legislative assistant just provided me with statistics.  VCBR was given $110 million to build a new facility in 2019. Imagine how much, if we had donated or dedicated that same amount of money, to providing actual rehabilitation services and how much we would have improved the Commonwealth.  So whoever is interested in that question that’s out there listening, there’s a number of us that have this on our radar.

Garnett Robins-Baughman:

Thank you.

5 Comments:

  1. Angela Hines-McCoy

    My comment is that they should shut VCBR down. It’s a waste of taxpayers money. They charge one hundred thousand and some odd dollars for every guy that is in that place. My fiancé (Adrian Gardner #551806) is diabetic and has no business being in that place. His profile doesn’t in no way, shape, or form show that he’s a sexual offender. Back in the 80s he first went to jail in Norfolk, Virginia for being involved in a murder and he has paid his debt to society by doing 35 years in prison consecutively. Before his PO had him locked up back on October 11, 2019, he was a working citizen and hadn’t did anything to cause him to be locked back up. His PO had put all these unnecessary technical violations on him and most of them got thrown out when she had him to go to court in Norfolk last year (2019). Then they had him to go to the VCBR place — Virginia’s shadow prison. He gave me the authority to be his Power of Attorney (POA) and I had it legalized downtown Norfolk — documenting that I’m his power of attorney. I don’t like how he is treated in there. For one, he sometimes has to wait a while to get breakfast or lunch. Sometimes his sugar drops too low because they take so long to bring his breakfast and sometimes lunch, by him being a diabetic he can’t wait so long to eat or else his sugar drops too low. Me and his family are very concerned and we pray everyday that nothing happens to him. He is scheduled to go to court January 25, 2021 and we are praying that his court-appointed lawyer will be able to get him released and off of having to be on an ankle monitor. He represents no threat to society and (like I said) he has already served his debt to society and when he got out last year of june he was always a working citizen and hadn’t did anything to cause him to have to be in VCBR, So far he has been in there since Oct.11,2019. They are treating his case just like it was something recent when it was originally 1986 when he first got locked up and went to prison and there is no way that he should be treated as a statistic. I think he is unjustly being treated unfair and when he goes to court in January 25,2021, I pray his lawyer can get him out of not having to go back to that VCBR or any other place and that he won’t have to have an ankle monitor or anything else on him. He serves as no threat to society and he does believe in being a working citizen. He also has certificates: including an OSHA certificate under his belt. Within the last year or two i have followed other cases and also since the Covid-19 that they have released other inmates that didn’t have much time left and also since he hasn’t commited any recent crime, i feel that Adrian Gardner should be released as well. He doesn’t deserve to be in that place, especially since he also does have underlying health issues. If Sen. Joseph Morrisey or whomever it may concern check into this situation and do something about this unjustly situation. Adrian is definitely considered a statistic of a black man being caught up in this unjustly system. I pray that this statement will reach out to someone or to whomever this concerns that something will be done and that Adrian Gardner can be released. Sincerely, Angela H. Hines(McCoy)

    • I agree with you 100%…. I worked there it is so much undercover things going on there. I have heard and seen do many residents get treated un fairly. On Fridays staff wear some of the tightest clothing you ever want to see. You have Residents there came back on a violation not a new charge but are being treated like a new charge, why are they sent there for a violation. I had known a Resident for awhile who is there and we were in a relationship with him on the outside he had been through all the phases ready to go home release orders signed September 11 2020 the investigator Turner there question me about him I told her the truth,they started took everything from him he has to wait a whole year before he can go home I ended up resigning from there. The place needs to be investigated. I am going to do my will to get this man home.

  2. Melody christiansen

    I really feel that once a person have done their time in prison then they should be released simple I feel like they aren’t treated as humans they are being treated as animals for what and vcbr are backwards and cricked as well they lie steal and pawn things on the inmates in there to keep them in there longer just so they can keep on continuing to get money on which they don’t get no part of so explain to me where and what is the money going and being spent on I would like to know and before the inmates were allowed to call their love ones and it didn’t cost a thing now their being charged as well as we are on the other end and it’s wrong and they need 2 release them and let them have their freedom back in there they have no freedom they are locked in and told what to do as if they are doing time and as if they are wild animals being tamed well my husband is their at vcbr that I’ve been with for 4 years and it’s time to give back his freedom and be released 2 his family thanks

  3. VCBR not only have an impact on the ones that they unfairly imprison civilly due to the “possibility” of reoffending but also has a significant effect on the families of the persons indefinitely detained. Our loved ones are often kept there for write-ups that are unrelated to sexual behaviors — it’s obvious that these ridiculous infractions are designed to meet their agenda: to keep our loved ones locked up.

    Most of these people haven’t committed a crime in 15 years or longer… and most have never and will never reoffended. If VCBR believes in “their” so-called “treatment” program, then why is the intent/commitment indefinite?

    Successful reentry programs usually provide support that is positive and non-punitive. What type education and/or vocational training beyond “sex offender” classes are they offering (if any?) to prepare our loved ones to reenter society successfully and remain free indefinitely?

  4. Pingback: Post-incarceration Commitment: Injustice & Waste – Women Against Registry

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