Following is a press release from the House Democratic Caucus.
Democrats in the House continued their crackdown on sex offenders Wednesday with new laws to better protect communities after offenders are released from custody. Among the package is a bill to add Level I sex offenders, failing to register with authorities, to the state’s sex offender notification website.
State Rep. Troy Kelley, D-University Place, is prime sponsor of the bill to bring these sex offenders refusing to register, into the public light.
‚ÄúWhen a sex offender fails to register, regardless of threat level, it’s clear to me as a parent, these guys don’t want to be found,‚Äù Kelley said. ‚ÄúParents checking for offenders in their neighborhood need to know about these guys, these offenders are a risk.‚Äù
Currently, the website only provides information on Level II and III offenders. People can go online and search their address and find sex offenders living nearby. Law enforcement would be required to add Level I offenders, failing to register, to this website database.
Kelley’s notification bill, House Bill 2786, is a part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s bill based off of the recommendations of the Sex Offender Task Force that met last year. The task force was developed, in part, by the Zina Linnik tragedy in Pierce County.
‚ÄúThis is a proactive step in keeping families and children safe,‚Äù Kelley said. ‚ÄúThe state has gone after sex offenders strongly in the last two years and we need to continue those efforts.‚Äù
‚ÄúYou don’t know when you’re working on a bill if it will prevent a young life from tragedy, but as a state, that has to be our ongoing goal.‚Äù
McNeil Island phone calls
Kelley also has a bill to log phone calls of sex offenders contained at the Special Confinement Center on McNeil Island. When Kelley toured the center last year, staff reported to him that offenders were making inappropriate phone calls to the public.
‚ÄúIt’s a false sense of security for the community if these sex offenders can continue to get in contact with victims, while they’re confined,‚Äù Kelley said. ‚ÄúThis is a loophole for sex offenders they’ll continue to use if we don’t start tracking them.‚Äù
The call-tracking bill, House Bill 2756, is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting action on the floor.
Editor’s Note: Sean Graver wrote a letter to the editor following a press release on HB 2756. To read his comments, click here.
Other sex offender package bills passed
- HB 2714 will increase the penalty for failing to register to a class B felony. Sex offenders not registering would be subject to longer community-custody sentences and $20,000 fines.
- HB 3103 makes schools safer by requiring mandatory termination for school employees convicted of, or pleading guilty to, sex offenses and other serious crimes, regardless of the age of the victim.
- HB 2728 classifies those committing indecent exposure, with a sexual motivation, as sex offenders.
- HB 1836 Released criminals with kidnapping and/or sex offenses, being released from a sentence for a different offense, still must register upon release.