J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 48(4) online, 2020. DOI:10.29158/JAAPL.200023-20: Shoba Sreenivasan, PhD, Amy Hoffman, JD, James Cahan, JD, Allen Azizian, PhD, and
Linda E. Weinberger, PhD; Published online July 27, 2020
Civil Commitment Is Lengthy and Expensive
“The indefinite nature of SVP commitment results in lengthy psychiatric hospitalization that is expensive. In certain cases, even among those identified as
meeting SVP criteria, public safety could be achieved through outpatient monitoring. Among the 20 state jurisdictions and the federal government that have enacted SVP laws, admission, discharge, and length of hospitalization vary considerably but tend to be years rather than months. Although the exact cost of SVP commitment is difficult to discern due to difficulty in separating expenses for evaluation, court proceedings, and hospital operation, it may be approximately $250,000 a year per patient using California data (i.e., hospital operation cost divided by total number of patients in a given year) or a total of $235 million each year. These costs may be higher for the elderly or for those with serious health problems requiring community hospitalization for emergency and other medical interventions not available at the state hospital.”
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