Among those who have been committed, nine transferred back to prison and seven people have died. Two people have been granted conditional release without discharge, which allows the resident to leave the facility for scheduled activities and appointments with an escort and electronic monitoring.
The growth in the sex offender program has become part of mental health officials' pitch for building a new high-security facility at the Fulton State Hospital.
The hospital about 30 miles northeast of the state Capitol admitted its first patients in 1851 and is the oldest public mental health facility west of the Mississippi River. Officials want to replace antiquated space at the hospital with a new $211 million facility that has a better treatment environment and is safer for patients and employees.
Lawmakers and Nixon this year have been working on a proposal to issue several hundred million dollars in bonds for improvements and construction at college campuses, state facilities and state parks. The Mental Health Department hopes the new 300-bed facility will be part of the bonding strategy and could ease the need for a new $70 million facility to house sex offenders. At the current growth rate, the department estimates it would run out of high-security space around 2018.
The new facility would house patients who currently live in the maximum security Biggs Forensic Center and the intermediate security Guhleman Forensic Center. Biggs would be razed, and 91 beds would be opened in Guhleman for the sex offender program.
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