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.