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Governor Gregoire holds sex offenders accountable for community safety

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2007

$8.24 million in targeted investments would support victims’ services, registries, neighborhood organizations and electronic monitoring

TACOMA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today proposed investing $8.24 million to help ensure community safety for Washington families.

“I was deeply saddened by the tragic kidnapping and murder of young Zina Linnik this summer. I had the opportunity to meet with her family and I assured them that I would take action to prevent other such tragedies,” said Gov. Gregoire. “As a mother and as Governor, I am absolutely committed to protecting our children and communities from sex offenders.”

The governor’s 2008 supplemental budget proposal will include $8.24 million for in-person verification of sex offenders’ locations, a unified sex offender registry program, a pilot project to determine the likelihood that an offender will reoffend, additional support for neighborhood corrections partnerships, electronic monitoring, services for victims and Operation Crackdown, Gov. Gregoire’s statewide effort to hold offenders accountable to the full extent of the law.

As part of her initiative to hold sex offenders accountable, Gov. Gregoire created the Sex Offender Task Force composed of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victims’ service providers and others who deal with offenders daily. The task force detailed how much improvement Washington has made since the 1990 passage of the Community Protection Act; it also identified several key strategies to further strengthen our state’s protections system, strategies that Gov. Gregoire’s 2008 supplemental budget will put into place.

“Ensuring Washington families live in safe communities is a top priority. My budget focuses on key areas that will help keep our communities, and our children, safe,” Gov. Gregoire said.

Gov. Gregoire will release her full supplemental budget proposal Dec. 18.

The governor’s supplemental budget proposal includes:

  • $5 million for in-person verification of sex offenders’ location. The governor’s investments will provide, for the first time, state support for ensuring that all registered sex offenders have a DNA sample on file and will support increased in-person verification of addresses by local law enforcement agencies.
  • $320K for a unified sex offender registry program. All local registration web sites will be linked with the statewide notification web site and will be immediately updated when new information becomes available. The system will also send notices to victims and other community members when a sex offender moves into the area.
  • $200K for Operation Crackdown. Multi-jurisdictional law enforcement units are working across the state to find and apprehend sex offenders who violate the terms of their release. During the first phase of this operation, 48 offenders were arrested. The governor’s support will make this an ongoing program.
  • $920K for electronic monitoring. In September, Gov, Gregoire utilized her emergency fund to allow the Dept. of Corrections to place Level III sex offenders without stable housing or a history of violations on electronic monitoring. The governor’s investment will continue this program and expand it to Level II sex offenders beginning June 2008.
  • $500K to support neighborhood corrections partnerships. Additional Community Corrections Officers will be on the streets with local law enforcement officers in Vancouver, Tacoma, the Tri-Cities and Yakima and will work with local law enforcement agencies to track down gang members, sex offenders and other felons.
  • $470K for the increased supervision of sex offenders. The governor’s investments will increase the number of Community Corrections Officers dedicated to the supervision of sex offenders and will implement a pilot project to measure the likelihood that an offender will reoffend.
  • $830K to support services for sexual assault victims. The governor’s investments will support an increase in the number of advocates in county superior courts for sexual assault victims and will update victim assistance guidelines through coordination by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.