View the article here
TACOMA - Because of more than $485,000 in state grant money doled out in July 2008 to law enforcement agencies in Pierce County, registered sex offenders in the county are getting better scrutiny than before.
- Better scrutiny? So how does further punishing low risk offenders equate to better?
Tacoma police and Pierce County sheriff's detectives have been knocking on doors and verifying that all 2,585 sex offenders are living where they say they are.
- So why do they need almost half a million dollars to drive around checking on people, doing their job?
Officers have checked all the sex offenders once and are going through the list again. The News Tribune reports Tacoma police and the sheriff's department have made 3,306 checks so far.
- Are they checking on all level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders? If so, this amounts to harassment, IMO!
Officers throughout the county will continue the checks until the grant runs out in June.
- So every year, the tax payers are going to have to pay almost a half million dollars so the police can do their jobs?
Budget talks are currently under way in the Legislature in Olympia to see if the money will again be available.
For nearly two decades, low-risk Level 1 registered sex offenders living in Pierce County hardly got a look from authorities.
- And that is how it should be. I can understand checking once a year, to verify their address, or when they move, but to constantly check all sex offenders, even those who are low risk, is harassment!
But in the first nine months of the grant, police and detectives have turned up dozens of people nearly all Level 1s not living at the addresses they'd listed when they registered as sex offenders. Those offenders now face criminal charges that carry jail or even prison time.
Since last July, prosecutors have charged 279 people with failure to register as a sex offender. The grant has enabled local agencies to update 20 years worth of files on low-level sex offenders.
- So you see, these technicalities is what drives the recidivism rates up. When you include any violation as recidivism, of course it's going to go up. But how many committed another sex crime? That is what should be used to judge recidivism, and if that is done, then you will see, like many studies have, that the recidivism rates are low. But, they make the laws almost impossible to obey, so they can get you on a violation, and make it look like offenders are constantly committing new sex crimes, which is a lie!
Overall, the program has been "wildly successful," said Tacoma assistant police chief Jim Howatson.
- So what amounts to "success" to you? Another arrest? It seems to me like the less amount of people you are arresting, and the less people are committing other crimes, that is what success is about. To you, it's all about punishment and making that next arrest, instead of prevention.
"One of the premier recommendations was that we not just pretend to hold sex offenders accountable but that we actually do it," Don Pierce, executive director for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said of the task force.
- So you admit you were not doing your jobs?