OLYMPIA- Communities can feel a little safer today as key crime legislation requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna to protect communities against sex offenders and to combat meth crimes becomes law Wednesday.
NEW METH LAWS
McKenna’s Operation: Allied Against Meth legislation (Senate Bill 6239 ), directs $1.575 million in funding each year through 2010 to be split across three multi-jurisdictional pilot enforcement areas:
- Pacific, Wahkiakum, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties;
- Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties; and
- Stevens, Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Lincoln counties.
“Combating the meth epidemic in our state has been one of my top priorities,” McKenna said. “This pilot program uses a holistic approach to the problem by addressing treatment and prevention as well as criminal justice.”
The bill provides a minimum of $4 million in state and federal funding to support multi-jurisdictional drug task forces and local prosecutors. The bill also outlines environmental clean-up, public education, governance, and sentencing strategies to clean contaminated lab sites, reduce the number of people addicted to meth, increase treatment and make sentencing and incarceration more effective for addicts.
The meth legislation followed recommendations made by the Operation: Allied Against Meth task force. McKenna convened the task force to bring together representatives from the legal, law enforcement, business and treatment communities to discuss Washington’s meth problem.
The bulk of the bill goes into effect on Wednesday, June 7. Section 108, which amends the vulnerable adult neglect statute to include exposure to meth manufacturing as physical neglect, becomes law in January 2007.
NEW SEX OFFENDER LAWS
Also going into effect on Wednesday are several strengthened sex offender laws – pieces of the comprehensive child protection package McKenna introduced in the Legislature this year. The bills were recommended and drafted by the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit, in consultation with law enforcement, prosecutors and victims’ advocates.
“These new laws give prosecutors and law enforcement the tools they need to keep sexual predators away from our children,” McKenna said. “Communities, too, will be better equipped to keep families safe.”
Senate Bill 6325 makes permanent statewide residency restrictions approved by the Legislature in 2005, which prohibit sex offenders from living within 880 feet of a public or private school.
Senate Bill 6406 makes second degree assault of child with sexual motivation a “strike” under the state’s “Two Strikes, You’re Out” law for sex offenses.
Senate Bill 5042 extends the statute of limitations in cases where a suspect is identified through DNA testing.
Senate Bill 6172 increases the penalty for possession of child pornography from an unranked felony to a Level VI with a minimum one year of prison time.
Senate Bill 6519 strengthens the sex offender registration statute by requiring level III sex offenders to register every 90 days.
McKenna also requested Senate Bill 6775, which became law on March 10, after he learned the Bellevue parks director was not legally authorized to keep known sex predators away from children. The bill, the first of its kind in the nation, gives employees at public and private facilities authority to ask known sex predators to stay away from areas where children are present and creates a new crime called Criminal Trespass against Children.
The final piece of McKenna’s child protection package, Senate Bill 6460, creates mandatory prison terms for crimes committed with sexual motivation, including a minimum one year for class C felonies, double enhancements for second-time offenders and a clarification that enhancements can be added to misdemeanors as well. This law goes into effect on July 1, 2006.
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For more information contact: Janelle Guthrie, Media Relations Director, at 360-586-0725