Initiative 861 sounds like such a good idea because it is! Snohomish County Prosecutor Janice Ellis could not be more wrong in her June 3 letter (Initiative 861: It sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t), stating there are few people who loathe sex offenders more than law enforcement, prosecution and victim service providers. What about the victims and their families? If Ms. Ellis knows how sex offenders operate, then she is familiar with Dr. Gene Abel, a well-known authority in sex offender research. His study, under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health, showed the average number of victims a pedophile had before ever being caught was 117. If the molester only targeted boys, that number rose to more than 280 victims. By the time these sex offenders are caught they have already used more than the one strike that this initiative calls for!
Ms. Ellis is concerned about the number of sex offenders who would take their cases to trial and the terrified children who would have to testify. What Ms. Ellis does not take into account is that a one strike law is not primarily for the purpose of punishment. It’s for prevention! If there is no crime, there is no trial or terrified children to contend with. Initiative 861 is not something that “looks too good to be true.” It is a solution whose time has come. Every other attempt to deal with sex offenders ultimately releases them back into our communities. How about a solution that deals with this situation once and for all: a one strike law.