Sex offender near school DOC’s goal is to keep children safe

  • Monday, November 19, 2007 4:00pm

Keeping people safe is the primary goal of the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC). Many of the more than 8,000 employees who work for DOC across the state have families and share a belief in the importance of protecting children.

For that reason, we understand the concerns some Mountlake Terrace residents recently expressed over reports that a sex offender under DOC supervision had been allowed to occasionally visit and even stay overnight at the home of the offender’s sponsor, who lived close to a school in the city.

By acting as pro-social role models, sponsors and other volunteers play important roles in the transformation of law breakers into law-abiding citizens. I am grateful for the time and effort such persons devote to helping offenders live more positive lives.

At the same time, we need to be sure such relationships do not create new issues that detract from the ultimate goal of public safety. When considering whether to approve an offender’s proposed visit or overnight stay with a sponsor, I have directed Community Corrections staff to first consult with the offender’s treatment provider and to consider a sponsor’s proximity to schools, child care centers, playgrounds or locations were children congregate.

We hold each offender accountable for abiding by conditions of community supervision imposed by the courts or by DOC. When an offender fails to comply with these conditions, action is taken. In the case that raised concerns in Mountlake Terrace, Community Corrections staff subsequently determined that the offender had violated supervision conditions by failing to continue participation in court-ordered sex offender treatment. He was taken into custody and transferred to the sentencing court for further action.

Such swift action helps reduce the risk that citizens will be re-victimized by offenders under DOC supervision.

Harold W. Clarke, Secretary

Washington Department of Corrections

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