Skip to comments.Groups seek return of North Bend (WA) as sex-offender site
Posted on 08/27/2003 8:53:51 AM PDT by Clint Williams
The City of Seattle and Concerned Citizens of Auburn and Federal Way are making legal maneuvers to get a site near North Bend back on the list of candidates for a sex-offender facility.
Attorneys for North Bend, who felt they had won their battle, say they are disappointed by the legal motions filed by Seattle and Concerned Citizens.
``I can't believe the gall of the opponents of two other sites to interfere in our lawsuit,'' said Vince Lombardi, an attorney representing the North Bend community. ``It's dirty pool. I'm not going to intervene in the other groups' lawsuits -- although I might now.
``We've always wished the best for all the other sites.''
Lombardi said North Bend will file a brief today opposing the moves by Seattle and Concerned Citizens. The state also is against Seattle and Concerned Citizens getting involved.
Yvonne Ward, attorney for Concerned Citizens, said the state's opposition bolsters her group's contention that the state already has decided not to choose the Grouse Ridge site near North Bend.
``If the state was truly treating all the sites fairly, it would not interfere with our efforts to correct their mistakes,'' Ward said. ``Why is the state opposing our efforts unless they've already cut a deal with North Bend?''
Ward added that the North Bend group ``got an unfair advantage and now they're trying to cling to it -- and that's wrong. We just want a level playing field.''
A judge last month barred the state from considering the Grouse Ridge site after the state Attorney General's Office missed a court filing deadline. The mistake allowed the City of North Bend to win a default injunction and apparent victory in its lawsuit against the state.
The attorney general could have corrected the error by asking a judge to vacate the injunction. Instead, the state chose to put such a request on hold until the Department of Social and Health Services makes its final decision on a site, likely the week of Sept. 8.
But attorneys for Seattle and Concerned Citizens say the pending legal situation puts their communities at a disadvantage by making it less likely that the Grouse Ridge site will be picked.
Seattle and the Peasley Canyon citizens' group filed motions last week in King County Superior Court to intervene in North Bend's lawsuit against the state. They want to do what the state has not and ask a judge to vacate the injunction.
``If the state won't do its job, the City of Seattle and the Concerned Citizens of Auburn and Federal Way will do it for them,'' Ward said. ``The North Bend site should not be dismissed on a technicality.''
The state is under a court order to provide transitional housing for violent sex offenders who progress in their rehabilitation programs at the DSHS Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. The first transitional facility will be in King County and will house between six and 12 offenders. There will be a fence around the house and the residents will be monitored at the facility and escorted by a trained staff person when they go into the community to work or shop.
A judge is scheduled to decide Friday on the issue of allowing Seattle and the Peasley Canyon group to intervene in the North Bend suit.
Despite the injunction, DSHS officials say they are continuing to consider the Grouse Ridge site, along with the Peasley Canyon site near Auburn, the Orillia Road site near Kent, and the recently added Seattle site in an industrial area south of downtown.
``Our contention is that North Bend is on the list and is going to stay on the list,'' DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said Tuesday. ``We oppose Seattle's and Yvonne's motion because it's unnecessary.''
Lombardi said the state, in theory, could disregard the judge's order and pick the Grouse Ridge site. And then ask the judge to vacate the order barring it from housing violent sexual predators on the site.
``The injunction means what it says,'' Lombardi said, ``but the state will do what it wants to do. If the state picks North Bend, we're going to fight about it.
``We think our case is over and we've won,'' Lombardi said, ``but the injunction is still subject to modification and subject to be set aside.''
Jamie Swift can be reached at email@example.com or 253-872-6646.
I'm beginning to wonder if we brought this on ourselves. Although there's always been the problem with convicts in halfway houses reoffending, we've always let them out when (if) their time is up. But I don't think there was ever this kind of protest over halfway-house siting until they went create ones with high concentrations of sex offenders. Nobody (quite reasonably!) wants it in their back yard. It's too toxic.
IMHO we're going down the wrong path by bending and twisting the law after the fact. Execute them upon conviction or sentence them to life, that's all according to law. Go for it. But I find these post-sentence measures that seem to circumvent the law to be worrisome, threatening further erosions of our rights.
Case in point: In Washington some ex-offender has put up a website with names, addresses, etc. of police and state (prison?) employees. The courts have said that's okay. The U.S. Supreme Court said it was okay to publish sex-offender names, addresses, etc. because there was no privacy right involved (?!) and this website seems to grow right from that decision.
And while I don't want to see these guys get out, and I really hope they are getting real treatment since some are getting out...... but I remain nervous about "civil committment" laws and other potential erosions of our rights. Remember Reagan denouncing the Soviets for locking up their enemies in so-called "mental hospitals?" Now think of precedents handed to a President Hillary.
I think we need to think it out again.
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