Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Sex Offenders and Bremerton: ‘What is the Attraction?’

November 13th, 2009 by josh farley

The population of sex offenders has been steadily rising in Bremerton. Andrew Oakley, Bremerton police’s community resource specialist, sent me some data recently that confirms this: in January 2008, there were 186 such offenders; in January 2009 there were 196; now there are 210.

I point these stats out not to scare our local residents, but rather to ask why we’re seeing such an increase. (I should also point out that crime in Kitsap and Bremerton has been steadily decreasing overall.)

Is it budget cuts by the Department of Corrections that’s leading to more offenders being released? Is it an increased amount of disclosures by victims that is leading to more convictions? Is Bremerton simply a place that has services and housing availability, as was pointed out in Tuesday night’s meeting concerning offenders on Washington Avenue? Perhaps a mixture of those?

I got an email earlier this week from Tom Isbell, who ran his own data using the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office “Offender Watch” web site (I’d encourage you to check it out too). He found a higher concentration per capita of level 3 and level 2 sex offenders in Bremerton than that of Seattle.

His analysis: (Number of sex offenders/total population/percentage of offenders per population)

King County: 1596 / 1,826,732 / (0.1%)

Seattle 963 /  596,000 /  (0.2%)

Bremerton 103 /  population 34,079 /  (0.3%)

Kitasp County 248 / population 239,769 / (0.1%)

He ponders such a concentration as well:

“Is it low income housing and cheap rent? Is it the services like an offender rehabilitation/treatment program offered in Bremerton? Is there a benefit for a landlord to rent to convicted sex offenders? I find it strange that there are that many convicted sex offenders in such a small area,” he said in his email.

“What is the attraction?” he added.

I’ll be looking for answers to these questions. In the meantime, please feel free to weigh in with your own analysis.

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6 Responses to “Sex Offenders and Bremerton: ‘What is the Attraction?’”

  1. STucker Says:

    Part of it probably is the cheap housing and access to community services, including assistance for those out of work/homeless and who need a bed, food, etc. Sadly, however, the other part of the equation is that Bremerton has long been the epicenter of Kitsap’s seedy side. It’s where people go for drugs, prostitution and other illegal activities, and where they can most easily find other people to hang out with who are like themselves…with criminal records, shady histories and a wish to keep out of the attention of law enforcement. A sex offender is more likely to be accepted in a neighborhood of other shady characters than he would be in a “nice” neighborhood in Bainbridge or Poulsbo. Before I’m accused: NO, I’m not saying that everyone and everything in Bremerton is low-life, just that the city has for a long time had a lot more than its share of those things – and it shows.

  2. Colleen Smidt Says:

    STucker says:

    “A sex offender is more likely to be accepted in a neighborhood of other shady characters than he would be in a “nice” neighborhood in Bainbridge or Poulsbo.”

    Are you sure about that STucker

    Bainbridge acceptance examples:

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/feb/02/four-arrested-on-prostitution-charges-on-island/

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/aug/07/level-3-sex-offender-living-on-bainbridge-island/

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/may/16/bainbridge-man-changed-with-child-molestation/

  3. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Poulsbo acceptance examples:

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/aug/07/no-headline—code_lelko_sex_offender/

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/jul/03/us-marshals-arrest-poulsbo-sex-offender/

  4. Colleen Smidt Says:

    South Kitsap acceptance examples:

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2007/nov/12/alleged-peeper-says-he-was-breaking-up-cat-fight/

  5. Marvin Says:

    Colleen, Giving us some anecdotal examples doesn’t really nullify what STucker is saying. Bainbridge’s populaton is what? About 22,000 or so? How many sex offenders live there? A handful, at best, yet within the City limits of Bremerton, with a population in the mid 30 thousands, is over 200. Proportionately Bremerton even has more than Seattle and King County. I don’t think anyone would say other communities in the county are crime-free, prostitution-free, or sex-offender-free.

    My guess is the same as others’. It’s simply cheaper to live in Bremerton.

  6. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Marvin my response to STucker revolved around the word “accepted” that he used. It did not have anything to do with per capita percentages. More of less of these individuals in one area does not indicate acceptance by the overall community. In fact in this particular instance the lack of acceptance by the rest of the population of that neighborhood is very prevalent and currently getting a lot of coverage. Any acceptance of this current clustering situation appears to lie primarily with the financial benefit to one particular landlord.

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