Letters to the Editor

What level three sex offender means

A recent cartoon in the Kirkland Reporter has made for great controversy. The cartoon depicts a hanging noose with the words, "The only legal loophole fit for a level three predator."

Hanging is still legal in Washington State at the request of the condemned. The real question is what the level three classification really signifies.

Level three is a classification for an offender who has, by definition, already paid his debt to society. Is the Kirkland Reporter advocating further punishment for level three offenders? Is the Kirkland Reporter perhaps advocating vigilantism through the use of this cartoon? Or perhaps the Kirkland Reporter's reasoning is even simpler than that. Perhaps the Kirkland Reporter is using the people's fear of former offenders to generate readership.

Whatever the case, it is obvious that the cartoonist and the Kirkland Reporter did not bother to learn the facts before they printed this cartoon.

Fact: A recent study by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that level 3 sex offenders are less likely to reoffend than level 1 offenders.

Fact: Former sex offenders have one of the lowest re-offense rates of all offenders, 3.5% according to the DOJ. Other studies put the number at 3.38% and 5% depending on the criteria of the study. However in every instance where a study removes those deemed likely to reoffend, the percentage drops below .00 percent.

Fact: The truly dangerous offenders make up less than 5 percent of the total number on the national registry according to the DOJ. And yes they can determine who these people are if they choose to do so.

Fact: The hype in the media over a few high profile cases is the cause for many of the misconceptions the public has about the (average) former sex offender. You know; the ones that the DOJ has found to have 94.7 percent rate of never re-offending. Yes, many of these people are level three offenders.

Fact: Under the AWA the tier levels are set by the original offense rather than risk assessments. It is this flaw in the system that is creating a registry that is becoming overwhelming to law enforcement and giving the public the impression that every lever 3 offender is a true danger, when in fact the DOJ has proven this to be 100 percent false.

Fact: The No. 1 cause of unnatural death among former offenders is vigilantism (murder). And many times this vigilantism is spurred on by the media.

Fact: Currently former offenders incur a greater threat of vigilantism than any other group.

We at SOSEN, the Sex Offenders Solutions and Education Network, encourage the Kirkland Reporter to look into the research on this subject before they publish any further hate based images or articles. We encourage them to retract this image that breeds ignorance and contempt for the law and offer a written retraction statement based on facts.

MWD Communications Director SOSEN.us, SOSEN Resource Center

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