Calif. Therapists Rake in Millions Under Sex Offender Law

Billed $24M for 2007 Jessica's Law services
By Michael Foreman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2008 12:17 PM CDT
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and Mark Lunsford hold the newly-signed Jessica's Law in Gastonia, N.C. on July 28, 2008.    (AP Photo/Brad Coville)
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(Newser) – Psychologists and psychiatrists are cashing in on a California law requiring mental health screening for sex offenders, the LA Times reports. Last year, private contractors billed the state for millions of dollars in prisoner evaluations, with one psychologist bringing home $1.5 million. State officials defend the expense as necessary to defend public safety in the face of inadequate staffing.

Jessica's Law mandates sex offender screening to decide if they'll be committed after serving time. The Department of Mental Health turned to contractors to cope with a backlog of parolees, though the State Personnel Board questions the decision. "They were shoving these things down our throats," said one psychologist. "They were just saying, 'take them, take them, take them!'" (Read more California stories.)