September 11, 2007 in City

Gregoire revisits sex offender policies

Richard Roesler Staff writer

OLYMPIA – In the wake of the abduction and slaying of a 12-year-old Pierce County girl this summer, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday called for increased electronic monitoring and other changes to curtail repeat crimes by sex offenders.

“We must do whatever we can to ensure the safety of our communities,” the governor said in a meeting with reporters at the Capitol.

Gregoire last month formed a sex offender task force to study the case of Terapon Adhahn, a level 1 sex offender who allegedly kidnapped and killed a girl watching a Tacoma fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

In a letter to task force chairman Russ Hauge – who is also Kitsap County’s prosecutor – Gregoire recommended:

•Increased electronic monitoring of sex offenders.

While ankle bracelets, GPS monitoring and the like are not necessarily a panacea against sex crimes, Gregoire said, she has told state correctional officials to review all the cases of level 3 sex offenders on probation to determine whether they merit electronic monitoring.

There are some practical hurdles.

For example, how would a transient person recharge the device?

But Gregoire said, “The only way we’re going to push the technology … is if we start making these demands on the system.”

•Ensuring that the state DNA database includes every sex offender.

Gregoire said she believes that the law has already closed this gap, but she wants the task force to see whether there are any exemptions that can be eliminated.

•”Knowing where sex offenders live is critical.”

Gregoire wants the group to consider adding level 1 offenders – those considered least likely to reoffend – to sex offender registry Web sites.

She also wants the group to see whether last year’s law is working.

It sends offenders back to prison if they fail twice to register with officials.

•Finding ways to “efficiently and effectively” help police monitor all registered sex offenders.

As for the potential costs of more electronic monitoring, she said: “When I go out and ask the taxpayers where they want their money spent, there’s little doubt in my mind that they want it spent on the safety of their family.”

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