Olympia Divided on Sex Offender Issue

In 2005, the most paramount issue in the State Legislature — raising the gas tax to fund billions in transportation projects — came at the tail end of the session, as lawmakers fought tooth and nail on both sides of the debate.

Thus far this year, the issue that has come to the forefront is how the state handles its convicted sex offenders. And by contrast, the debate began, “Within minutes of the Legislature’s ceremonial opening gavels falling at the Capitol,” according to David Ammons, Political Writer for the Associated Press.

In a time in which Democrats control both the state House of Representatives and the Senate (not to mention the governor’s mansion), Republicans have recognized that it will take some evasive political maneuvering to get certain messages across. Thus, on opening day, they brought to the floor about 170 page-long House Bill 2476 — which, most notably, would increase sex offender sentences to a minimum of 25 years for child molestation, and 30 years for child rape — in an attempt to advance their Legislation quickly.

House Democrats, including Poulsbo’s Sherry Appleton, said they were unwilling to pass the bill in an unconventional means, as it had not gone through the usual channels of committee. The bill fell on a party line vote, and though the Republicans had lost, it gave them a political angle from which to attack: that Democrats were “softies” when it came to sex offenders.

Several state Republican groups quickly went to different media channels to spread the word to voters (their timing is impeccable, this being an election year). In the meantime, Democrats introduced their own sex offender Legislation — House Bill 2411, which would increase most sentences for child molestation and rape to a minimum of 25 years, though only for crimes in which strangers, and not family members, were involved.

Republicans, including Kingston’s Bev Woods, still back HB 2476, and Democrats their own aforementioned bill. But the debate here in Kitsap County is more pragmatic than partisan, as prosecutors, police and other officials along the criminal justice spectrum will deal with the issue long after any bill gets a signature from Governor Christine Gregoire.

As we’ve seen from a recent horrifying rape and abduction of a Bremerton teen, the issue hits close to home, far too often. There are also many convicted sex offenders living in Kitsap and Mason Counties.

And there’s more: the pair of bills make up only the tip of the ice burg for sex offender legislation. In a move some political pundits called unorthodox, State Attorney General Rob McKenna introduced his own package of bills, and droves of lawmakers rushed to sponsor their own Legislation.

From keeping sex offenders out of kids’ hangouts to finding ways of tracking homeless offenders more accurately there are literally dozens of bills moving through committees, some that will undoubtedly reach the House and/or Senate floor for vote.

Though the Legislature is in its short, 60-day session, the potential is there for many new laws to be passed, and this week could see many of them clear committees and head for a vote.

Which of the bills do you support? Which are you against?

7 thoughts on “Olympia Divided on Sex Offender Issue

  1. If you listen to Lantz, Kilmer and Appleton, you would think they were the victims in regard to repeat offenders molesting children. This should be a no brainier, not the time to be playing to advocacy groups. Hurt a child forever and you are going to do hard time, for a long time.

  2. Certainly the treatment of Jessica’s law is political.
    The reason, according to our Democrat Prosecuting Attorney, that the proposed punishment for family members or known offenders should be watered down, is that the other family members might not be willing to tell the truth.
    The usual Democratic response is to water down the law to protect those folks who are willing to commit purjury.
    What could be clearer than that?

  3. I wrote to (rep.) Lantz, (rep.) Kilmer, and Senator Oke. In each case I asked them to include all classes of child rapists, and molesters. In each case I received a form letter that did not even address the text of my letter. So few cases of child abuse are committed by a stranger. It seems to me that anyone who harms a child should be sentenced to a minimum of twenty five years. Yet these people who we elected to represent us, act as if they must protect rapists, child molesters instead of the victims. Once again this group of people have refused to listen or act for those who elected them in the first place. It high time they are reminded they work for us, it is not us who work for them. I can only hope in the next election we all remember the failings of these three people and replace them with someone who will follow the mandate of those who elect them. I have kept and have filed all the responses I have received from these people. When I read them I came to see that none of them really read, comprehended, retained any of what my correspondence said. I for one am so disappointed and ashamed of those I supported and voted for. Now I can see we need to make a change, more then ever.

  4. NOTE: Please read this with an open mind, and try to consider BOTH sides. Don’t let hate for sex offenders do the thinking for you. And do NOT believe all the hype, stats, and all the other peoples opinions on the news. They are only opinions from people who refuse to consider any other way, so called “HATE MONGERS”, if you will.

    Any “registry” is just plain wrong. The Nazis used them, and they banished millions of jewish people who did not deserve any of the pain, suffering and death they were forced to succumb to.

    People who say “but it’s for the children” is just trying to scare the public, and guess what, it’s working. Just look at all the hateful things MANY people are saying, like “LET’S HANG EM ALL,” “THEY SHOULD ALL REPORT TO THEIR LOCAL POLICE

    I am all for punishing predators and pedophiles, but, while they are in jail or prison, they need to be getting professional help. People can change, you just have to give them the tools to help them change. If you just lock them up for years, and then let them out, they are just going to be worse than when they originally went in. While they are in prison, it should be mandatory that they get treatment. Then, once they are about to be released, they need to be re-evaluated. If they are deemed not a threat, then they should be released and allowed to live a normal life without harrassment from the public. But if they are still a threat, they should stay in prison until they are no longer a threat, do NOT let them out.

    I was molested by my brother when I was young, which I did not even remember until I went to therapy. And when I finally remembered it, I was VERY ANGRY!! But, I am glad I did not do that, and I forgave my brother, whom I loved very much, and still do. But, he died in the marienes while traveling at a high rate of speed on a motorcycle, while intoxicated. When I found that out, it tore
    me apart, and I was really depressed, and I did not want to kill myself, but a lot of my actions seemed like I was trying to. I love my brother very much, and will miss him forever, even though I’m still angry it happenned. People have to learn how to forgive people once they have served their time, and sex offenders who get out of jail, are constantly under stress, panic attacks, scared someone will harm them, always looking over their shoulder. I could not imagine living like this.

    So most sex offenders have probably been molested themselves when they were young, and need help, professional help. Not locked up for the rest of their lives. If you are a Christian, then you know, you must learn to love your enemy and forgive, which I’ve done. I understand how people feel about these types of people, but, the residency laws do not protect any child, it’s only a false sense of security. If an offender wanted to re-offend, they’d just get in a car and drive somewhere. I’m not saying it’s right, but we MUST learn to love and learn from our mistakes, not just lock them up and throw away the key. That makes things worse. We have kids killing kids, and people killing people for stupid stuff, like a pair of shoes or 2 dollars. Come on!! WE MUST CHANGE!!

    Some issues with these laws are (in my opinion):

    a) 1000 feet buffer zones, these do nothing but give the public a false sense of security. If someone wanted to hurt a kid, they just hop in the car and drive. It also banishes them, due to not being able to find a place that is not within 1000 feet of a bus stop, church, school, pool, or any place children congregate. So it basically banishes them, forcing them to either NOT REPORT, or move out into a rural area, where it would be even easier for someone to re-offend and get away with it. Banishment is not the way. Look at a map which has all the above locations, and you’ll see, it would be almost impossible for them to find a place.

    b) As for churches, pools and places where kids congregate, same as above. False sense of security. Why can’t they go to church and afterwards, hang around talking to people? During church, there is many people who stand around chatting, catching up on the weeks’ happennings, etc, so kids are more safe when a lot of adults are around. Also, if someone had a business, then later a church was put up next door, they can now go to church, but cannot run their own business. If you also look for a place to stay, like hotels/motels, most are grouped together and one of them 99% of the time will have a pool, so that would put all those places within 1000 feet, off limits. And this is every where, just look.

    c) They are also claiming it’s to protect the kids, but what about the FAMILES and CHILDREN of sex offenders? They are forced to move away from their families, which kids will not understand, and this will surely hurt the kid(s). The families are also forced to move, possibly loosing their jobs, kids are always having to change schools, causing them to not learn like normal kids. Also, the families and kids are also harrassed, due to someone in their family being a sex offender. Now instead of punishing one person, you are punishing the WHOLE family. Vigilantes have looked up sex offenders on the registries, went to their house, or what they thought was the house, and killed the person they thought was the sex offender, when it turns out, the guy had the wrong address and killed the wrong person. I do not see how ANYONE could live under these circumstances, they’d be a nervous wreck always worried about someone beating them, killing them, or their families. Plus, the kid(s) when they go to school, are being humiliated. Other kids are saying “I can’t come over, your father may touch me”, so thus the kid no longer has friends, and is picked on at school. Same with the wife or spouse.

    d) These buffer zones, when enacted in ALL states, will basically BANISHsex offenders. Where are they going to live? Some people have said some island somewhere, or who cares…. (but) EVERY human being has rights.

    e) Sex offenders are scape goats for politicians so they look like they are tough on sex offenders to get votes. And if the public accepts this, more registries will follow which you or someone you love may be on.

    f) The law says they would categorize people on the registry into low, medium and high risk. THEY HAVE NOT DONE THIS! They’ve put EVERYONE into the HIGH risk area, and the PUBLIC has the impression they are all hiding behind the bushes, waiting for your kid to come by, so they can hurt and kill them. This is untrue!! And is only the politicians scaring you, so you go along with their laws. Wise up folks and read the laws, then, with a truely open mind, tell me you think these laws are fair.

    g) The world today is cruel, so if you have kids, do your job and monitor them. Bush says the American public CANNOT PROTECT THEMSELVES. Are you truely going to believe this? Protect your kids, watch what they are doing on the Internet, and who they are talking to, it’s your job and right to know what they are doing. Why don’t you DEMAND from the government the Internet tools to protect kids. You can get on something like Google, type in something like “SEX” and it pulls up tons of porn links, pictures, etc. I totally believe they need to ban porn on the internet, this is only fueling the fire.

    Why are they making sex offenders and meth cookers to be on a registry? This is discrimination. Why not make everyone with a criminal record on the registry for the public to look up? Wouldn’t you like to know if a murderer, drug user/dealer, gang member, DUI offender, etc was some where near by? You can’t single out a couple groups without discrimination.

    There HAS to be another way, than banishment… WAKE UP AMERICA!! What is this world coming to?

  5. What is this world coming to when the child predators are protected, not the child?
    Child predators are evil, depraved and should be locked up forever.
    It is our duty to protect children from predators…not turn the predator loose to alter the life of another child.
    Children have the right to our protection, don’t they?
    Once the child molester/predator crosses that line and harms a child…that monster has relinquished all rights to freedom.
    Do not bleat for the predator right to life after preying on an innocent child…no ‘second chances’ when it comes to a violated child!
    Children deserve our protection – not the predator.

  6. If many or most of these sex offenders were victimized themselves as children than maybe they should be locked up forever where they can’t create any more future offenders. They won’t have to be worried about vigilates if they are safe behind bars. These evil monsters who prey on children don’t think or care about the childs right to life. Put them away for ever and a day.

  7. It is immaterial if present day child predators were themselves victimized as children…there is NO EXCUSE for anyone to victimize a child.
    We cannot undo what has already been done… we CAN see to it that predator will never be free to harm another child! That is our duty to our children.
    Nothing else matters but our duty to protect children. least of all any concern for the predator.

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