The sexual predator law, which was passed in 1999, has yet to be put into effect because of its estimated $20 million pricetag. A bill in the House Appropriations Committee would make the law effective immediately, provided enough startup money can be allocated.
?I don?t want to face a mother or father in the future to explain why we can?t come up with the money to fund this very important program in the face of new victims,? Kilgore said.
The main impetus for the legislation is the scheduled April release of repeat sex offender Richard Alvin Ausley, who is completing a 30-year sentence for abducting a 13-year-old boy, burying him in a box in a wooded area and repeatedly molesting him for more than a week.
The victim of that attack, Martin Andrews, has lobbied legislators to implement the civil commitment program to keep Ausley off the streets. He has maintained that the 63-year-old Ausley, who is known to have molested at least two other boys, is still a danger to society.
Gov. Mark Warner included $300,000 in his proposed budget amendments to commit and treat two or three offenders for one year after they finish their prison terms. Ausley would presumably be one of those offenders.
However, Republican leaders said Wednesday more money may be necessary to make the program operational.
The sponsor of the bill, Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said he would urge the Appropriations Committee to provide enough money to accommodate as many as six to eight convicted sex offenders who will be up for parole and eligible for civil commitment in the next few years.
In a subcommittee meeting late Wednesday, members decided this may cost as much as $2 million in the first year, said Tom Kise, spokesman for Griffith.
Griffith said, however, it was his ?gut feeling? that the money would be found. One proposed source is instituting a filing fee for child custody cases in the state?s juvenile courts, which has been proposed by Griffith in a separate House bill.
?This will all be flushed out in the (Appropriations) subcommittee,? Griffith said.
The civil commitment bill would also change the definition of a sexually violent predator to include a person who has difficulty controlling his predatory behavior, among other things. Kilgore said evaluations by psychiatrists and evidence or testimony provided by officials and other inmates at jail would be used to determine who is placed in the program.
?They must show this person is likely to commit this crime again,? Kilgore said.
Treatment would be provided to the offenders, and release would only come when it is demonstrated the offender no longer poses a threat.
The idea has its opponents. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has raised concerns that ex-convicts will be forced into commitment based not on what they have done, but what they may be capable of doing.
Similar laws in other states have so far stood up to constitutional challenges in the U.S. Supreme Court.