By Emily Fitzgerald / email@example.com
The Washington state Department of Corrections (DOC) is vetting a house in the rural Rochester area as a less-restrictive alternative (LRA) for housing registered sex offenders, Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders announced Tuesday.
LRAs are outpatient treatment programs in community settings for sexually violent predators, which are defined as people convicted of violent sex offenses who have completed their sentences but are considered extremely likely to reoffend if not confined to a secure facility such as McNeil Island.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call from DOC on Tuesday, Oct. 3, advising the sheriff’s office “that under court order, they have started their suitability assessment for an LRA sex offender house in rural Rochester,” Sanders said in a social media post Tuesday evening, adding, “DOC declined to provide me an address. When I asked who I could speak to in order to find the address, they stated they didn’t know. There was no other information provided.”
The area of the proposed LRA is in the same patrol district as a proposed LRA in the Tenino area that garnered significant backlash from residents and government officials caught off guard by the plans earlier this year.
That LRA was scheduled to open in February, but the opening was delayed due to code compliance issues, and the agency contracted to run it, Supreme Living LLC, backed out in March.
One of the issues the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office brought up with that proposed Tenino-area LRA was the fact that the patrol district only had one funded deputy.
“This proposed area is in the same patrol district as the Tenino LRA proposal, and just like last time, there is still only one funded deputy for that entire region,” Sanders said in a social media post on Tuesday.
Sanders added that he plans to submit a public disclosure request to both DOC and the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which contracts LRA providers, for more information about the proposed LRA “as the little info they have provided to TCSO isn’t acceptable and raises the same degree of concern from earlier this year.”
“I will continue to provide updates to our community as I receive them,” Sanders said.
Under Washington state law, McNeil Island residents are entitled to a yearly evaluation to determine if they still meet criteria for civil commitment, if a LRA is in their best interest and if conditions can be imposed that adequately protect the community, according to previous Chronicle reporting.
Legislation passed in response to a court ruling in 2021 amended the procedures for LRAs to make it easier for facilities to open and for sexually violent predators to apply for LRA placement.