After the brutal murder of 13 year-old Alycia Nipp, allegedly at the hands of a convicted Level III sex offender, released under a policy of monitoring him with a GPS tracking device on his person, we might think that legislators would open their eyes to the folly of their ways in this policy and do something to keep these predators off of our streets.
When it comes to many of our Legislators in Olympia, Washington, nothing could be further from the truth it seems.
As Republicans representing Washington State try to pass legislation to keep these predators in prisons longer or add measures to keep them off of our streets and away from our children, the Democrat majority in the Legislature consistently opposes measures calling for stiffer sentences and stricter measures on their release.
Senator Don Benton tried without success to pass a version of “Jessica’s Law” in 2006 in Washington State. His bill died in the Judiciary Committee.
After the murder of Alycia Nipp here in Clark County, Benton again tried to introduce an amendment to another sex offender bill, only to see it blocked by the imposition of Parliamentary Procedures by Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma and upheld by Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, also a Democrat.
Currently, Senator Benton has introduced another bill, SB 6115, enhancing penalties for and monitoring of sex offenders. Even though introduced after the cut-off date for bills to pass out of committee, Benton vows to fight for its passage anyway.
I give special credit to Senator Tim Sheldon of the 35th Legislative District for being the lone Democrat to step up and co-sponsor this piece of legislation.
Representative Jan Angel, Republican from Port Orchard also tried to introduce her bill in response to the brutal murder of Alycia Nipp. HB 1834 was not even given a hearing!
Representative Angel said,
“We have an opportunity to protect vulnerable citizens with new, effective technology, and yet the majority party completely ignores this legislation”
Personally, I don’t feel her bill went far enough, but is a step closer to doing what we must to keep our children safer and stop those we know will most likely re-offend from having easy access to them.
Although Alycia and her family reside in the 49th Legislative District, neither of our Democrat Representatives, Jim Moeller or Jim Jacks, signed on to co-sponsor this effort.
And again, I give credit to those few Democrats who went against their party and co-sponsored this bill, even though it did not even receive a hearing.
It should be noted that our local newspaper, the Columbian, chose to mention this at the very bottom of an article, Lawmakers approve wide range of legislation, where it would least likely be read.
Most disturbing was seeing that within days of Alycia’s murder and the arrest of the transient Level III sex offender accused and confessed in her murder, our legislature, including Sen. Craig Pridemore in who’s district the murder happened, voted for a bill to ease restrictions on some sex offenders.
SB 5288 passed in the Senate by a 38 to 8 vote by a bi-partisan vote, leading me to believe many see it as a cost cutting measure. Surely the safety of our children and protecting them from sexual predators would be more important than other areas receiving taxpayer funds, but it doesn’t appear so.
The bill is before the House currently, so we will see where their priorities lie.
Throughout America, websites are popping under the guise of Citizens for Change that also distort sex offender laws and call for easing of restrictions on so called lesser offenders or those that have not been caught re-offending for a certain period of time.
They throw up a smoke screen by always mentioning those few cases where teens are caught up in offender cases or other cases considered minimal, by them. One even once told me that stronger laws “do more harm than good!” I wonder who is harmed more by stiffer penalties for these repeat offenders?
One such supporter of easing restrictions once said to me, “the vast majority of sex offenders on Tier three are no threat to anyone.” Just how we are supposed to tell that before another child is murdered is left unsaid and unanswered.
While many may be well meaning, although misguided in my opinion, they cloud the issue of repeat offenders who eventually murder someone, all too often a child.
Missed is that nearly every one of those repeat offenders and murderers also began their spree in what these people consider “lesser crimes” that even they would ease restrictions on.
Statistically, maybe most don’t end up murdering a child, but again, how is it to be determined which ones will eventually murder and which won’t? Why must we wait until another child is murdered to find out?
In the case of the bill to ease restrictions above, six months without re-offending is considered acceptable. With guidelines such as that, Westley Allen Dodd would have qualified for easing of restrictions that were instituted after his rampage of murdering three children here in Clark County in 1989.
Would you be comforted to know that the one who murdered your child, “statistically was no threat?”
How did we as a society, become so cavalier as to take on the attitude of a Department of Corrections official, who in regards to Alycia’s death said, “Tragic as it is, these things happen.” How is it our legislators can sleep at night knowing they have the power and ability to keep these predators off of our streets and out of our neighborhoods, yet block actions to do so?
One murdered child is one too many in my estimation. It is high time we citizens identify which legislators place criminals above our children’s safety and vote them out next election. We citizens must hold our elected officials responsible and if they will not carry out our will, vote in others who will.
Alycia’s Godmother, mother, aunt and others, have a facebook page up now, Mothers Against Sex Crimes and a MySpace page, MASC – Mothers Against Sex Crimes. Please lend your support in the struggle to keep these predators off of our streets.
UPDATE: Just one example of why we need stonger measures, Violent sex offender escapes Portland treatment center. “William Dale Surrat, 40, has a long history of sexually abusing young girls and fantasizing about mutiliating others.”
Let’s hope and pray he is recaptured before another child pays the price.