KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Silence as Jay Inslee sided with violent Washington sex offenders

May 21, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: May 22, 2023, 9:22 am

washington sex offenders...

Gov. Inslee signing a bill during the 2023 legislative period (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

After Washington families worked hard to ensure that they’d be consulted before the state places sexually violent sex offenders in their communities, Governor Jay Inslee told them their concern doesn’t matter. And neither Democrats nor the media are willing to speak up.

Under Inslee and Democrat leadership, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is releasing violent sexual offenders (also called violent sexual predators) to communities around the state. They’re doing so without informing communities, nor doing the necessary checks to ensure that it’s being done safely. It’s part of a greater strategy to depopulate prisons and McNeil Island with a Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA), an outpatient treatment program in a community setting.

In 2021, Democrats passed legislation to more easily distribute conditionally-released sexually violent predators across the state. Democrats and the state even encourage predators to pursue LRAs. At the time, the prime sponsor, State Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), said it’s in part about “people who are potentially dangerous, but not necessarily dangerous, back into communities where they can live safely and with their constitutional liberties protected.”

The dangers of this plan exploded after the state was caught trying to release 57-year-old Brian Horton to an unsecured home in Tenino, feet away from a school bus stop and recreational area children use. He has a lengthy criminal history, including pleading guilty to one count of first-degree child molestation from a March 21, 1997 incident, leading to a sentence of 89 months confinement and 36 months community supervision. The case notes report the then-31-year-old “began having sexual contact with an unknown 6-year-old female and an unknown 5-year-old male while he was babysitting them.” The document said Horton “reported that both victims cried and tried to get away from him, but he held them forcefully.”

Thanks to the activism of community groups and media scrutiny, the plan was killed — but only because the state was caught.

Republicans took on Washington Democrats defending sexually violent offenders

To help prevent this in the future, Republicans attempted standalone bills that would require community notice and discussions before placing sexually violent predators into neighborhoods.

“There is absolutely no reason at all, that I can find, that hiding these placements from the public is in the public’s interest,” State Rep Dan Griffey (R-Allyn) told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Griffey pushed legislation that would pause the LRA strategy and give the state time to come up with better solutions that sneak sexually violent predators into communities. Democrats wouldn’t even give the legislation a hearing. But Republicans were able to add two budget provisos requiring DSHS to provide notice to communities and consult with them before placing dangerous sex predators nearby.

It was not a controversial requirement and the provisos earned Democrat support. But when the goal is to release sex offenders as part of a larger effort to release felons, it’s a burden.

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Inslee calls public safety “burdensome”

Inslee vetoed the provisos, calling them “administratively burdensome” to DSHS. To the governor, protecting the community — in particular, children — from level three sex offenders, who are almost guaranteed to commit more violent sex crimes, is burdensome. The governor complained that it would “likely result in the delay and availability of placement options” for the sex offenders, as ordered by a judge. But Democrats could have changed the law they recently passed to address this concern. They chose not to because a majority of Washington Democrats seek to dismantle and rebuild a criminal justice system they pretend is racist and oppressive.

The vetoes were a slap in the face to the communities that fought hard for just the common courtesy of being involved in the process of releasing dangerous sex predators into their neighborhoods. They could have highlighted the problems with siting that DSHS either ignores or isn’t aware of, as was the case in Tenino. It could have made a community safer. But Inslee couldn’t be bothered. Neither could Democrats and the media.

Democrats have remained silent on the vetoes, in large part because the media is too.

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Where’s the outrage?

A web search yields no meaningful coverage of the vetoes.

The Olympian briefly mentioned the issue, but only relied on press release statements in its coverage. Left-wing Seattle Times ignored the issue entirely, along with local television networks — including the ones that covered the Tenino controversy. The only Washington media covering the sex offenders issue (that I can find), aside from KTTH, were MyNorthwest and (Un)divided. Perhaps they’ve been busy or were caught off guard by the temerity of the governor to veto such common sense provisos. Maybe the media will spend the week covering the issue?

Without media coverage, Democrats won’t have to answer to selling out constituent safety to help sex predators. Democrats already stopped standalone bills from advancing on the issue. It appears that they allowed the budget provisos to earn some political cover, only to let Inslee veto them. That way, Democrats can say they tried. But I don’t think they did and I don’t think they view this issue as serious. They won’t have to live near a home full of child rapists, after all. You will.

The media should put pressure on Democrats: do they support the vetoes or not? If not, what will be done next legislative session to ensure this issue is tackled? It’s inexcusable to ignore this. Without media scrutiny, the greater public has no clue that this even happened. I fear they may find out the next time a sex offender starts living in the group home next to where their children play.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Silence as Jay Inslee sided with violent Washington sex offenders