MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer HELENA
The Department of Corrections announced July 11 it is looking for a contractor to build and run a new sex offender treatment facility. The 116-bed program was authorized by the Legislature last year, and aims to expand treatment options for jailed sex offenders so they can more safely be returned to the community, the agency said. The Corrections Department said it will begin seeking bids for the program next month. Those submitting bids will have to find a community that is willing to accept such a facility. "The developer is required to put together all the work on the ground, including finding the community support for it," said Bob Anez, corrections spokesman. The agency says those who are treated are far less likely to re-offend, citing statistics finding the recidivism rate drops from 25 percent to 2 percent. The new program was authorized as part of a legislative effort to crack down on sex crimes. "It's better to have people go through treatment than not go through treatment, because they are going to be released at some point," Anez said. The program is similar to residential treatment programs established for meth addicts. In both cases, contractors are responsible for building and operating the facilities. About one of every three inmates in the Montana State Prison is there because of a sexual offense. There is currently a treatment program available in the prison, although there is a backlog waiting to get into it. The new facility will be designed to provide about a year of intensive treatment for lower-risk sex offenders. The agency hopes to have it running next spring. The agency is also seeking bids for a new 40-bed prerelease center in Kalispell, and also wants it operating sometime next spring.