They’re convicted sex offenders considered so dangerous that the state of Washington — liberal, latte-loving Washington — once thought they needed to be housed on an island in Puget Sound.
They’re now going to be released into communities across the state — including in homes that are next to a playground and less than a half-mile from a school bus stop. And it’ll cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to pull off.
According to The Post Millennial, it’s all part of 2021 legislation passed by Washington Democrats which amended the state’s law to distribute conditionally released Level 3 violent sexual offenders currently housed on McNeil Island into what are known as Less Restrictive Alternative housing, or LRAs.
Democratic state Sen. Christine Rolfes said, at the time the legislation was passed, that it would allow “people who are potentially dangerous, but not necessarily dangerous, back into communities where they can live safely and with their constitutional liberties protected.”
McNeil Island, according to a 2018 profile of the facility by the U.K. Guardian, housed just over 200 residents who have “been convicted of at least one sex crime – including sexual assault, rape and child molestation. A court has then found them to meet the legal definition of a ‘sexually violent predator’, meaning they have a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes them likely to engage in repeat sexual violence.”
“The only way on and off the small island is a passenger-only ferry, which makes the 15-minute trip every two hours. The ferry docks at a defunct prison on the island and a bus takes employees and visitors to the facility a few miles inland.”
The men on the island were all Level 3 sexual offenders. According to San Juan County, Washington’s website, “Washington state law requires that the general public be notified of information on Level 3 registered sex offenders” and “Level 3 offenders are considered to be a high risk to reoffend in the community and meet most, if not all” of a number of criteria.
These criteria include a “[c]riminal history of repeated sexual offenses, or other acts that include violence,” “[o]ffender has not completed a treatment program, “[s]ex offenses directed toward strangers and/or the general public” and “[o]ffender expresses intention and/or desire to continue committing offenses,” among others.
While the civil commitment center was considered the first of its kind in the 1980s, it’s now fallen out of fashion with the left — and, according to KTTH-AM talk radio host Jason Rantz, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has transferred 22 of these offenders to LRAs in 2022, with two already released in 2023.
The residents are being distributed throughout the state’s counties, because misery (and fear, and real danger) loves company, I suppose. So far, 11 of the released Level 3 sex offenders were released in Pierce County, eight in King County, four in Spokane County and one in Snohomish County.
Glen Morgan, a Washington state conservative activist and founder of local political outlet We the Governed, told KVI-AM that “what they’ve decided to do is instead of keeping them on an isolated island in the middle of Puget Sound where they used to have a federal prison, they decided, ‘Hey, this is a great idea. Let’s distribute them equally … equal distribution throughout all the counties in Washington state. And we’ll stick them in neighborhoods and we’ll hand them over to for-profit companies who don’t have to be subject to public records act laws, or open public meeting rules.’”
In Tenino, Washington — located in a rural area of Thurston County, south of the state capital of Olympia — residents say they’re just finding out about an LRA in their community at “the 11th hour,” Seattle’s KOMO-TV reported on Tuesday.
The two-story home is being run by Supreme Living LLC, a residential care services provider contracted by the state. Companies are allowed to dictate how information about the LRAs is released to the public in the communities. Both Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders and residents told KOMO the company “didn’t do a good job of communicating” about the home.
“Residents told KOMO News it was not until Jan. 11 that they learned about the LRA and its potential residents via a community Facebook post, and insisted once they attended a meeting to learn more, they were left with more questions than answers,” KOMO reported.
It’s scheduled to open with one resident on Feb. 1, according to The Centralia, Washington Chronicle, although it’s approved for up to five sex offenders to live in the facility.
This has sparked outrage in the community, especially considering the home is across from a recreational area and a half-mile from a school bus stop. Sheriff Sanders opposes the home due to the limited resources available in the rural area.
Nevertheless, at a recent meeting, he told a resident who asked about blocking sex offenders from moving in that he didn’t want to see “negative retaliation.”
“This is obviously a super negative issue, no one is happy,” he said. “We are on your side, there is always a right way to do things.”
The problem is, how can one trust Supreme Living to do the right thing? They’ve already picked a residence that manages to be in a rural enough area that services are difficult to access for dangerous sex offenders trying to attempt some kind of reintegration into society, yet close enough that said sex offenders can easily access children.
This distressed local residents — and last week, Seattle’s KCPQ reported that a “standing-room only” county hearing left “county commissioners … now looking at possible legal actions to stop any transfers.”
“Knowing that five Level 3 sex offenders from McNeil Island are going to be in my backyard scares me to death,” said Tenino resident Sarah Fox, who attended the meeting.
Furthermore, the state Department of Corrections said that a court overseeing the LRA is ultimately responsible for whether or not the property is sufficiently secure.
“The property owner is only required to address any concerns or changes recommended to the location if the court compels them to do so. DOC cannot require the property owner to address noted concerns,” a spokesman told KTTH, while noting the sex offenders will still be wearing ankle bracelets to monitor them.
However, while the property will be monitored by cameras, there’s still no fence, no armed security to stop escapes and no 24-hour responder from the state Department of Corrections to arrest a sex offender who flees. All for the low, low cost of $38,000 per sex offender, per month, paid by the state to Supreme Living — until it reaches the maximum five offenders, at which point it becomes $20,000 a month per offender.
Sheriff Sanders, speaking to KTTH’s Rantz, said he was distressed when Supreme Living invited him to an open house event to address concerns.
“I went to this town hall meeting with an open mind, right? Like, what’s really going on here?” Sanders said. “How are we going to address this?
“And left, ‘Wow, what a poor presentation.’ There weren’t many answers. And my perspective obviously comes from a law enforcement side of things. When one of the sex offenders leave, and one of them eventually will, because this is permanent housing … we’ve taken sex offenders who are never leaving the house, are not allowed to leave ever, and expecting that they won’t ever act on impulse and just walk out the front door?”
Yes. Because that’s what the left believes. And if they do that, remember what state Sen. Rolfes said when the bill was being introduced: It’s about taking “people who are potentially dangerous, but not necessarily dangerous” off of an island where they were being kept for being potentially dangerous, and finding out whether they’re necessarily dangerous.
If they aren’t, holistic, restorative social justice has been served — or whatever the buzzwords are these days. If they are “necessarily dangerous” and end up acting accordingly, we’re probably not going to talk about it. Because that’s how progressive criminal justice reform works: Celebrate the wins and ignore the losses, even as the tally in the latter column accumulates much more quickly than in the former.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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