Panel proposes DNA tests to track all sex offenders
Seattle Times staff reporter
Gov. Christine Gregoire is considering a sweeping list of recommendations aimed at broadening the state's ability to track sex offenders, including widespread use of DNA testing and electronic monitoring.
The recommendations, which Gregoire announced Wednesday, were drawn up by a task force of police, lawyers and victims' advocates. The governor created the task force after convicted sex offender Terapon Adhahn was charged with the July 4 kidnapping and slaying of 12-year-old Zina Linnik of Tacoma.
Many of the recommendations reflect issues confronted by police and prosecutors in the Adhahn case. Adhahn, a Level 1 sex offender, had not registered with law enforcement as required by law.
In addition to being charged with Linnik's slaying, Adhahn is facing numerous other charges stemming from attacks on two other girls and is considered a person of interest in the December 2005 abduction and slaying of 10-year-old Adre'Anna Jackson of Tillicum, Pierce County.
Funding for the recommendations has not been determined. The Governor's Office said that whatever recommendations the governor agrees should be instituted will be part of a package that she presents to the Legislature.
The task force, led by Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge, has made the following recommendations:
• DNA samples should be collected from all registered sex offenders.
• State funding should be provided to assist local law enforcement in conducting in-person address verification of all registered sex offenders.
• Electronic monitoring should be used in appropriate circumstances.
• Continued services and supports for victims of sexual assault are essential to holding offenders accountable.
• Information about Level 1 sex offenders, considered the least likely to reoffend, should be added to the statewide notification Web site if the offender fails to register with law enforcement in a timely manner or gives inaccurate information. Currently, only data on Level 2 and Level 3 offenders is posted.
• District and municipal-court conviction records should be electronically available to superior courts in an easily accessible format.
• The creation of a separate sentencing system for sex offenders should be examined, dealing not only with the prison term but with tracking and treatment requirements upon their release.
Hauge acknowledged that ordering all offenders, including those no longer being monitored by the state Department of Corrections (DOC), to give a DNA sample would likely be challenged in court. According to the State Patrol, there are 19,902 registered sex offenders in the state.
"We recommend strongly that the Legislature require DNA samples from all registered offenders," he said.
Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state, said he hasn't seen the proposals and couldn't comment on any possible concerns.
Nearly a month ago, Gregoire ordered the DOC to begin using global-positioning-system (GPS) tracking for 50 of the state's most dangerous sex offenders. She doled out $400,000 from an emergency budget to defray the costs.
Gregoire said she wants community corrections officers — or probation officers — to use electronic monitoring for offenders convicted before 2006. She said Attorney General Rob McKenna's office is reviewing whether this is legal.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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