‘What are you in for?’ Assault, sex convicts the most common inmates in Washington’s prisons

Were you to check in for a stay at one of the state’s prisons tomorrow (which I hope you do not have to do), chances are great your bunkmate would have landed behind bars due to a sex or violent crime. 

More than 70 percent of more than 16,000 inmates are in for one of those types of offenses, according to data Washington state Department of Corrections Secretary Bernard Warner presented last week before the state senate’s ways and means committee.

Warner, there to educate lawmakers about the dire choices they may have to make amidst the state’s newest budget shortfall, brought with him some interesting stats, including the pie chart you see below.

You may have seen in Saturday’s edition of the Kitsap Sun our story about the cuts. What Warner presented isn’t pretty:

“A five percent cut (to corrections) would mean releasing all inmates but convicts of sexual and violent offenses 120 days early and a reduction on average in community supervision from 16 to six months. In concert with other cuts, it would mean more than $81 million in trimmings from the budget.

A 10 percent cut would mean releasing all inmates but convicts of sexual offenses 120 days early and almost the complete elimination of community supervision for just about all inmates. Combined with other cuts, it would bring down the budget more than $163 million.”

10 thoughts on “‘What are you in for?’ Assault, sex convicts the most common inmates in Washington’s prisons

  1. Maybe we need to begin executions of sex criminals. One could make an argument that killing the soul of an innocent in such a manner as rape, or child molestation, is worse than actual murder.

  2. Josh you don’t make the distinction between male and female prisoners for the sex crimes.
    What percent of the sex offenders are male?
    Does turning them loose mean the citizens are responsible for protecting themselves against such predators?:

  3. Sharon,

    For the record “sex” offenders have among the lowest actual recivitisim rate among “violent” criminals. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, only 5.3% of American sex
    offenders are rearrested for a new sex crime within three years (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). The “sex offender” industry uses fear tactics and stories of imaginary predators behing every tree and bush to extract billions in tax dollars, and perpetuate their own jobs. Remember the Wenatchee Witchhunt? 30,000 false charges and dozens wrongly imprisoned? Really, who was the predator there? The reality is that individuals are ALWAYS responsible to protect themselves from all threats, the Police are not obligated to do it and noone else is in line.

    Frankly, we need to consider that what we have been doing for the last few decades really dosn’t work, we have strayed too far from the original principal of out justice system: Pennance and Redemption. Under the present system we have plenty of the former,(which supports a bloated Government beaurocracy) but no longer have hope of the latter. A Felon is supposed to be a person under sentence for an offence, but today the term is an eternal label, a sub-class consisting of millions of Americans stripped of their Citizenship and unable to rejoin society despite having “Paid their Debt”. This class of “untouchables” is disproportinately both the prepratrators and victims of crime.They have little reason to share a sense of community with a culture that rejects and discriminates against them in a form of perpetual punishment. This is all counter productive and until it changes we all will suffer the consequences of feeding a giant industry whose main purpose is the extraction of tax money at the expense of all our Liberties.

  4. “..could make an argument that killing the soul of an innocent in such a manner as rape, or child molestation, is worse than actual murder….”

    In some cases it may be worse.

    “…consider that what we have been doing for the last few decades really dosn’t work, we have strayed too far from the original principal of out justice system: Pennance and Redemption. Under the present system we have plenty of the former,(which supports a bloated Government beaurocracy) but no longer have hope of the latter.”

    What do you suggest?

  5. To start we need to simplify the laws to make clear what exactly we are prosecuting, and we need to tighten the standards of evidence to sharply curtail the number of false prosecutions. Prosecutors should be personally responsible for the things they say in court and out, and when they bring bogus charges. Anyone who knowingly brings a false accusation should be liable for the sentence the falsely accused faced.

    Defendants should not be identified in the media prior to conviction. Juries should vote only once, by secret ballot, to either convict or acquit, with any result other than a unamious conviction is a defacto acquital, no hung juries, no second and third prosecutions. Under a simplified system Murder and Rape would be capital offences with commensurate evidenciary standards.

    “Criminal Intent” would no longer be an assumption and would need to be proved prior to a prosecution, for crimes in which “intent” is a key. No one would be prosecuted on the unsubstanitated accusation of the “victim”. It should be very difficult to get a conviction against a citizen, Judges need to hold the standards of evidence very high, and keep the prosecutors honest.

    Work = pay: Prison Slave Labor would be eliminated allowing the imprisoned to contribute to the support of their families breaking the cycle of poverty that breeds generational crime. Prisons should not be a for-profit business.

    Persons ending their sentences would not face debilitating financial penalties, and would resume full Citizenship upon release from sentence. Employers and Landlords would no longer be able to discriminate against “Felons” status because that status would end upon release. Registries would no longer be public, ending the modern pillory online.

    My objective here is not to lessen the punishment of the guilty but rather to better protect the innocent from an increasingly predatory “Justice Industry” that needs a constant supply of bodies to keep itself fed, and to hold responsible the forces that have brought us to the point of having 2 million Americans incarcerated and a untold number effectivly stripped of their Citizenship.
    Persons who commit crimes should continue to be held accountable and will continue to pay their “debt to society”, however once that debt is paid it will no longer be a lifelong “scarlet letter” a person will be allowed to have his debt “paid in full” and have the chance to become a full member of society again.

  6. “Defendants should not be identified in the media prior to conviction. Juries should vote only once, by secret ballot, to either convict or acquit, with any result other than a unamious conviction is a defacto acquital, no hung juries, no second and third prosecutions.”

    In the case of child sexual molestation, too many parents of abused children will not prosecute or file charges allowing the predator access to other innocent children he then preys upon – sometimes for years..

    I know that had the first person – or second – or third – filed charges against the predator, the case I’m familiar with would most likely not have happened. The parent/s of the little girl would have been aware.

    I know for a fact in one case that the public notice of the filed charges against the predator brought children out of the woodwork claiming he abused them too and citing dates.
    I don’t have an answer other than to educate parents that they not only have a responsibility for their own child/ren – they have a responsibility to protect other children from such predators by prosecuting them and let the chips fall.

    “better protect the innocent …” – YES!

    Thanks for your thoughtful letter. I can’t disagree other than the comments above.

  7. Sharon, you are making my point for me here. Molestation cases are particularly problematic in the current system. Most people do not realize that the diffrence between child molestation and rape is that in the former there is no actual sex act, it is largely an “intent” crime. Additionally there is no requirement for corroberation of the accusation to convict, in fact, evidence of any kind is very rarely presented. Given the relative ease with which a childs testimony can be manuipulated this is a serious cause for concern. By identifying the “predator” (a common prejudicial descriptor) and causing every one to have ever met the accused to suddenly “discover” more allegations (often through suggustive, leading questioning) you irreversably taint the process and, as in the case of an acquaintince of mine, when the accused is finally exonerated his reputation and standing, and that of his children and family, in the community is irreparably damaged. Unscruplous Prosecutors know this and will use the damage done by the media as a threat to coerece false pleas. Media coverage in Molestation cases (a particularly ambiguous offence with NO requirement for corrobaration of accusation)is always horribly slanted and given the frequency of false accusations (especially common in divorce cases) are in need of particular reform.

  8. The child I saw, Mike, was sitting in a bathtub of pink shallow water trying to stop the blood flow.
    A hard to forget visual.

  9. Without trying to minimize that visual, it sounds like there was actual evidence to support that prosecution for Rape(as opposed to Molestation), and a professional investigation would find additional victims without a media fueled witchhunt. How does tainting potential jurors with lurid stories, and swamping detectives with panic-induced false reports help? Does parading the victim before the cameras somehow aid in recovery? Does having the accused’s children attacked at school, spouse fired from his job, or bounced from their church somehow serve the cause of Justice?

    There is no perfect system, what I propose are solutions to glaring problems identified in many cases over the years. Presently the involvement of the media is a major problem and needs to be addressed. Protecting the idenity of the accused seems logical (innocent until proven guilty, remember?) step in the aftermath of Wenatchee, Duke and countless other less well-known cases.

    There are tragidies on both side of this: My Friend’s son’s ex manipulated her young child into making an accusation duing the course of their custody battle (the ex has admitted this). My friend was convicted of molesting his grandchild with no corrobration whatsoever, there was no evidence gathered, no medical exam, just the child’s well coached testimony. He died, an innocent man, in prison before his appeal could be granted.

  10. Mike, I’m sorry about your friend. I don’t have answers to the dilemma however, I hope that an innocent person in prison is the exception, not the rule.

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