State Reps. Dan Griffey and Travis Couture, both Republicans from Allyn, released a statement on Thursday welcoming the recent decision by Supreme Living to not locate housing for sex offenders at a home near Tenino while also calling for action to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
According to previous reporting by The Chronicle, Supreme Living announced it would not house sex offenders in Tenino in a post on its website on Feb. 28. Known as a less restrictive alternative (LRA) housing facility, the Supreme Living facility was expected to provide housing to five sex offenders who had served their prison sentences but had been civilly committed as sexually violent predators.
Under current state law, McNeil Island inmates are entitled to an annual evaluation to determine whether they meet requirements for civil commitment. The decision is based on whether LRA housing is in the best interest of the sex offender and whether conditions can be imposed that would adequately protect the local community.
“That was a big victory, especially for the Tenino community. But it does not solve the larger problem,” the two Republicans said in a prepared statement. “Enumclaw and other communities are still facing the relocation of sexually violent predators into their neighborhoods, and we must take a stand to protect the most vulnerable.”
The two legislators pointed to their proposed legislation, House Bill 1813, as a path to address the issue. The bill would place a two-year moratorium on homes for sexually violent predators (SVPs) being placed in communities while creating a work group to study the issue and determine the best path forward. The two argue the current process lacks transparency and fails to provide adequate notification to communities that would be immediately affected by housing for SVPs.
“Unfortunately, the bill was not given a hearing in the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee in time to make it beyond the policy and fiscal cutoff deadlines. While I fully intend to revive this effort next year, we need immediate action before it is too late,” Griffey said.
The legislators called on Gov. Jay Inslee to act to protect children and survivors of sex crimes.
“Waiting is a game of Russian roulette,” the two stated. “We are asking that Governor Inslee use his authority to put this moratorium in place in defense of those who cannot defend themselves. He has generously acted in the past and we expect no less now.”
Griffey and Couture argued a task force would have the opportunity to explore the issue and should have the time necessary to create proposals that would protect the constitutional rights of SVPs while also prioritizing the safety of local communities. They also said accommodations can be made on McNeil Island by repurposing existing facilities as LRA housing during the proposed moratorium in order to meet constitutional requirements, while also protecting communities from sex offenders determined to have a high likelihood of reoffending.
“We are willing to partner with the Governor, concerned citizens and those running the needed facilities. We must put all differences aside for the sake of the people we serve. We cannot afford to look back and say to ourselves that we could have done better when the opportunity to do so is with us now,” Griffey and Couture said.