Lawmakers seek to change how and where sex offenders are released

TACOMA -- Keeping track of convicted, registered sex offenders in Pierce County is no small task -- there are more than 2,500 of them living across the county.

"A Level 1 (sex offender), we have to knock on their door and verify they`re living at their registered address once a year. Level 2, we have to knock on their door once every six months and a Level 3, we have to knock on their door once every three months,” Pierce County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Benson said.

It’s hard work, to keep up with people who are potentially dangerous to the community.

Who could forget July 4,  2007? Twelve-year old Zinna Linnik was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Her body was found a week later.

Convicted sex offender Terapon Adhahn confessed and is now serving a life sentence.

"I remember seeing all the kids in the alley and even little Zinna. It just really put a dark cloud over this neighborhood for a time because we all knew little Zinna," neighbor Richard Allen recalls.

Pierce County has what some call a disproportionate number of sex offenders.

While the county makes up only 12% of the state's population, it is home to 16% of the state's registered sex offenders.

"No one community should have to bear an unfair share of the burden that these sex offenders present to any community,” county prosecutor Mark Lindquist said.

Now comes a new piece of legislation to solve the problem.

It was written by state Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, and a bipartisan coalition of Pierce County legislators.

The proposed law would allow judges to consider not only the well-being of victims, but also the availability of sex offender treatment facilities and whether a disproportionate number of offenders are being released into any one county or local community.

"Seven or eight years ago, there was a fair share bill that addressed folks released from a traditional prison environment. What this bill does is it puts Special Commitment releases in the same process, if you will,” Kilduff said.

"This is the kind of bill that's so balanced and fair and important to public safety, I can't expect there would be much opposition,” Lindquist said.

The bill will get a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee Friday. It has already had a hearing on the Senate side.

Again it is bipartisan and most involved hope it will be voted into law sooner rather than later.