Despite significant changes made by the Washington State House of Representatives
,a bill that would prohibit sexually violent predators at the state’s Special Commitment Center
on McNeil Island from possessing or accessing a personal computer has been agreed upon by the Senate
. It will become law unless vetoed by the governor.
Senate Bill 6308
, sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell
,R-Lakewood, was unanimously approved by the Senate Feb. 16. It requires the Department of Social and Health Services, which operates the SCC, to deny a resident use of a personal computer if his or her treatment plan states that computer access is harmful to that individual’s treatment. In such a case, a sexually violent predator may still access a word processing device with limited functionality and no graphical capabilities.
“My original bill would have prevented even more children from being exploited by only allowing SCC residents access to a computer if DSHS officials deemed it necessary,” Carrell said, “but I’m pleased that the Legislature was able to at least do something to address this disturbing pattern which has emerged at the Special Commitment Center.”
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Carrell was referring to the recent revelation that a total of sixteen residents of the SCC are facing federal indictments for crimes related to possession of child pornography. Because a nine-month backlog of confiscated computers is still awaiting inspection, Carrell says he expects that number to double.
“Our state has a two-strike law for sex crimes, and it’s very likely that many of these individuals under indictment will be sentenced to life in prison if convicted,” Carrell said. “The state should not be enabling sex predators to continue victimizing children through the viewing of child pornography by allowing SCC residents access to their computers. I’m disappointed that the House chose to make the language of my bill less restrictive, but it has strengthened my resolve to make this bill even tougher next year.”
The House passed SB 6308 by a vote of 97-1 on Mar. 5. It will now go to the governor to be signed into law.