South Seattle Community College considers the protection of our community from sex offenders to be a matter of significant importance. The objective of the 1990 Community Protection Act was to provide adequate notice to the community concerning sex offenders who are, or will be attending classes or working on the campus, and to assist our community members in developing constructive plans to prepare themselves and their children for residing near released sex offenders.
Information that is relevant and necessary to protect the public and to counteract the danger created by a particular offender is released pursuant to RCW 4.24.550.
The extent and content of the disclosure of relevant and necessary information shall be related to:
- The risk posed by the offender to the community
- The location where the offender resides, intends to reside, is regularly found, or is employed; and
- The needs of affected community members for information that is necessary to protect their interests and safety.
The manner and mode of dissemination is restricted by the standards set forth by the legislature and interpreted by the Washington State Supreme Court in State v. Ward, 123 Wn. 2d 488, (1994) and its progeny.
Purpose of Notification
An informed public is a safer public. Notification is not intended to increase fear. Sex\kidnap offenders have always lived in our communities. Unless restricted by a court order, sex\kidnap offenders are constitutionally permitted to live wherever they choose. The legislature has determined that the purpose of the Community Protection Act of 1990 is "to assist law enforcement agency's efforts to protect their communities" by providing relevant and necessary information. If "the public is provided adequate notice and information, the community can develop constructive plans to prepare themselves and their children for the offender's release."
The Department of Corrections, the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board are required to classify all sex offenders released from their facilities into levels of risk (low, moderate, or high). These agencies then issue to appropriate law enforcement agencies narrative notices regarding the pending release of sex offenders. The narrative notices describe the identity and criminal history behavior of the offender and shall include a risk level classification for the offender. Upon receiving a narrative notice, local law enforcement agencies review all available information and assign risk-level classifications to all sex offenders about whom information will be disseminated for the purpose of community notification.
Remember that these lists of registered sex offenders only contain the names of sex offenders who are obeying their requirement to register with the sheriff's office. The campus safety and security office maintains records of sex offenders who have been brought to the attention of South Seattle Community College by either the Seattle Police or King County Sherriff's office. Additionally, the King County Sheriff's Office maintains an online registry of Level II and III sex offenders who are registered to live in King County. You can search for offenders by zip code or by an offender's name.
Using this public information to threaten, intimidate or harass sex\kidnap offenders will not be tolerated by South Seattle Community College. This abuse could potentially terminate our ability to release this important information to the public. What are the different sex offender levels and what do they mean?
The vast majority of registered sex offenders are classified as Level 1 offenders. They are considered at low risk to re-offend. These individuals may be first time offenders and they are usually known by their victims. They normally have not exhibited predatory type characteristics and most have successfully participated or are participating in approved treatment programs. Many are first time offenders.
Washington state law strictly limits public disclosure of all Level I registered sex offender information. Information shall be shared with other law enforcement agencies and, upon request, relevant, necessary and accurate information may be disclosed to any victim or witness to the offense and to any individual community member who lives near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level I offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public notification.
Level II offenders have a moderate risk of re-offending. They generally have more than one victim and the abuse may be long term. These offenders usually groom their victims and may use threats to commit their crimes, they have a higher likelihood of re-offending than the Level 1 offenders. They are considered a higher risk to re-offend, because of the nature of their previous crime(s) and lifestyle (drug and alcohol abuse and other criminal activity). Some have refused to participate or failed to complete approved treatment programs. Typically these individuals do not appreciate the damage they have done to their victims.
Washington state law prohibits the public disclosure of Level II registered sex offenders except under specific criteria. Level II notifications including relevant, necessary and accurate information may be disclosed to public and private schools, child day care centers, family day care providers, businesses and organizations that serve primarily children, women or vulnerable adults, and neighbors and community groups near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level II offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public notification.
Level III offenders are the greatest risk to the community. Most are predatory, have other violent crime convictions, refused treatment and are known substance abusers. Community notification is the most extensive.
Washington state law permits notifications about Level III offenders that include relevant, accurate and necessary information. This information MAY BE disclosed to the public at large.
For information on the Seattle Community College District Policy and Procedures, please District Policy #255.
South Seattle has also developed the specific procedures that assist in notifying our campus community of sex offenders on campus. According to these procedures, the Vice President of Student Services:
- Reviews all relevant and necessary information provided to us by law enforcement personnel, the campus safety and security manager, and assess the safety issues posed for students, employees, and all children on campus.
- Reviews the above information and criteria and determines whether and how the offender's identity and relevant conviction information will be released to members of the college community.
- Interviews and meets with all Level I, II, and III sex offenders attending South Seattle Community College.
- Releases the identity and information when it is necessary to protect the college community.
- May notify the campus community with current photographs posted on specified bulletin board located at various locations, including the child care center, security office, and other appropriate locations. The offender's faculty is informed and the Vice President may inform students who are in the same classes with Level III offender, depending upon the level of assessed risk. The offender will be told who is getting the information.
The King County Sheriff's Office maintains an online registry of Level II and III sex offenders who are registered to live in King County. Search for offenders by zip code or by an offender's name.
More information on these individuals is available from the South Seattle
Safety and Security Department or from the King County Sex Offender Search website.