OLYMPIA — Three bills covering a wide array of public safety issues, including ensuring that men and women suffering from mental illness receive treatment and that updates are made to the state’s policies dealing with registered sex offenders, have been approved by the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee.
“Maintaining public safety is the most important job we have as legislators,’ said Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, the bills’ sponsor. “In spite of cutting billions of dollars in services and programs that aid the most vulnerable, common-sense bills like these are helping Washington succeed in keeping our residents safe.”
The bills include:
SB 5565 — Concerning background checks for individuals seeking a license under or unsupervised access to children. Under this bill, the Department of Social and Health Services would be required to more closely and consistently examine background checks and determine if a child’s safety is a legitimate concern.
SB 5735 — Concerning registered sex or kidnapping offenders. Under this bill, registration standards and public notification requirements for sex offenders are renewed and updated. In addition, the bill makes it a gross misdemeanor for a registered sex offender to fail to comply with the current law to provide a DNA sample and requires schools to post sex offender policy information and prevention facts on their websites.
SB 5176 — Addressing criminal incompetency and civil commitment. Under this bill, more case-by-case reviews and evaluations would determine if an offender declared criminally incompetent should be held for treatment, rather than released, in the interest of public safety. This bill is one of four mental health measures that make up the Senate Democrats’ violence prevention package
“For a small number of severely mentally ill persons who have committed violent acts, this bill provides a longer period of treatment to protect both the public and the individual,” said Hargrove.