Senate Substitute Bill 6259 is now law in this state. Most of its provisions came into effect on July 1, 1990. Most of us have heard of this law as the sex offender bill that allows civil commitment of such prisoners after they have served their sentences. SSB-6259 has a lot of other provisions that impact not just sex offender, but those convicted of serious violent offenses as well. Here we will take a look at some of those provisions.
Community Notification: "At the earliest possible date...before release...the department of corrections shall send written notice of parole, community placement, work release, furlough or escape about a specific inmate convicted of a violent offense or a sex offense...to all of the following." The law then the chief of police and county sheriff where the prisoner will live, and if request have been made, notification is extended to the victim (or next of kin in homicide cases), any witnesses who testified against the inmate, and any other person specified by the prosecuting attorney. (See Sec. 121) Officials are also able to release information from a prisoner's records to just about anyone, and are made immune from liability for any harm resulting from such releases of information.
Earned Early Release: "In the case of an offender convicted of a serious violent offense or a sex offense that is a class A felony committed on or after July 1, 1990, the aggregate earned early release time may not exceed fifteen percent of the sentence." (Sec. 201)
Criminal Sentencing: The SRA sentencing grid has been made substantially more harsh for both sex offenders and persons who have committed violent crimes. Assault one, for example, has moved from a seriousness score of XI to XII, and the punishments were also increased. (See Sec. 701) There are several other penalty enhancement provisions, particularly for sex and violent beefs, that are too complex to deal with here.
Registration of Sex Offenders: "Any adult or juvenile residing in this state who...has been convicted of any sex offense shall register with the county sheriff" of residence. (Sec. 402) Registration includes giving fingerprints, photographs, etc., and must be done each time an offender moves. Failure to register is a class C felony on which there is not statute of limitations.
Sexual Motivation in Crime: "The prosecuting attorney shall file a special allegation of sexual motivation in every criminal case...when...evidence exists...(that) would justify a finding of sexual motivation by a reasonable and objective fact finder." (Sec. 601) What this means is that a finding of sexual motivation, similar to the present finding of being armed with a deadly weapon, would mark those confined for burglary, assault, etc. as really being sex offenders in prison is going to materially increase.
There are many other provisions of this lengthy new law (131 pages long), such as the much-discussed civil commitment section, that the reader may want to study. While civil commitment is just for sex offenders today, next year or the year after it could easily be extended to include violent offenders as well. For a copy of the entire bill write to: Statute Law Committee, Office of Code Reviser, Legislative Building (MS/AS-15), Olympia, WA 98504. Ask for Senate Substitute Bill number 6259.
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