One day after Tenino area residents visited the Capitol to express their outrage over a proposed facility near Maytown to house Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS) clients, including sex offenders from McNeil Island, Gov. Jay Inslee said the issue is on his radar.
“I know there are concerns about that facility. And I’m a Tenino boy. That was my first home. My very first home was in Tenino,” Inslee said in an interview with The Chronicle Friday. “I know people are concerned about this. But, I think there’s hopefully going to be some information to assuage some of those concerns.”
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new behavioral health center at Maple Lane School northwest of Centralia, Inslee told a reporter the center was in line with his dream to support community-based mental health care. Supreme Living LLC, a privately-owned household in Tenino slated to receive five sex offenders from the state’s special commitment center, Inslee said, was not under the same mission statement.
“That is a facility that is court-ordered, in effect. … Judges make the decision on what conditions they need to be in when they're in this transitional situation after coming out of our prisons and the like,” Inslee said. “Then the Department of Health and Social Services has to follow those court orders.”
The house was originally set to receive its first resident on Feb. 1. After a push from the Thurston County Commissioners, that start date has been delayed. While residents will not be permitted to leave, citizens, county officials and state lawmakers, have voiced concerns over security in town halls and protests.
Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders previously said his office has limited resources in the southwest part of the county, which would make it difficult to respond quickly if an escape were to occur. Offenders from McNeil Island, Sanders stated last week, are often described by officials as “the worst of the worst.”
Inslee claimed, though, the facility will be highly secure and noted an upcoming town hall on the matter on Sunday where he said he hopes DSHS will be able to increase the community’s understanding.
“It still has a lot of security. People will not be allowed to leave unless they’re chaperoned, specifically. Period. They wear ankle bracelets. So, it has a lot of security features. It’s on a 14-acre location so it’s quite remote, if you will,” Inslee said.
He was the first to say ankle bracelets will definitely be required on the grounds. According to Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier, they were mentioned as a possibility by the facility’s CEO, but whether they’d be required was unconfirmed.
“We’re hoping that after some of this information is shared with the community, some of those concerns will be assuaged,” Inslee said.
Sunday’s town hall will be open to the public at Tenino High School at 4 p.m. The meeting will also be streamed live on The Chronicle’s Facebook page.