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8. Sexually Violent Predator Program

The Iowa Attorney General's Office has statutory responsibility for the Sexually Violent Predator Program, which is operated in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Human Services. Other state agencies including the Department of Corrections, the Judicial Department, and the Department of Public Safety are also involved in implementing the Iowa statute, which was adopted in 1998. The program has been in operation since 1999.

The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) program is a long-term, intensive civil commitment treatment program for high-risk offenders. A "sexually violent predator" is defined as "a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses, if not confined in a secure facility." (Iowa Code 229A.2(8) (1999).

In developing the civil commitment program, Iowa officials have had a dual focus. First, careful screening of potential patients results in the selection of the highest risk offenders. Second, the development of a high quality treatment program encourages and motivates sex offenders to understand their offending cycles and develop appropriate methods to control their behavior.

Unlike many other states, Iowa has strictly limited its criteria for admission to the program and, as a result, Iowa's program has seen slow and steady growth with a manageable number of patients in the program. Despite substantial budget constraints, the Iowa program has been able to accommodate new patients, has maintained security appropriately and has focused on the development of a positive, therapeutic environment to enhance treatment. Patients in the program have real hope for changing their behavior, improving their own lives and avoiding re-offense when they are released from treatment.

A copy of the annual report for the program is available at Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders.