Sex Offenders: How Far Do We Go?December 20th, 2006 by josh farley
Virtually every state in the country has enacted special measures against sex offenders. Washington is no exception.
How? By requiring offenders to live hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet from school bus stops. It makes living in a community almost impossible.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge told me that Washington’s laws are some of the toughest in the country, primarily due to “determinant plus” sentencing. That sentencing re-evaluates offenders at the end of their prison terms and examines whether they should be released or civil confined indefinitely.
That’s a fate that may be awaiting Kevin Coe (pictured from his 1981 trial), the so-called “South Hill rapist” from Spokane. Though he’s served a 25-year sentence, the state’s attorney general’s office is attempting to keep Coe confined at McNeil Island, where about 236 other sex predators are being held past their criminal sentences.
Though numerous new sex offender laws have been passed in Washington in the past year (see a list of them here), one that has caused some confusion of late is the creation of “community protection zones.”
However, I recently had a complex, but fruitful conversation over e-mail with Kitsap County Sheriff’s detective Steve Duckworth on this topic. After doing his own research, Duckworth said the community protection zone actually applies to only a select few offenders.
And, “Neither law gives law enforcement agencies the authority to restrict where registered sex offenders live,” Duckworth said.
We’ll be continuing this discussion, and it will likely result in a story for the paper in the coming weeks.
For now, what are your feelings about sex offender laws? Have we gone too far, or not far enough?