Sex Offender Registration & Tracking Unit
When Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) are released from the Washington State Department of Corrections (aka prison), that means they have fulfilled their prison sentence for the crime they had committed.
The GCSO's job is only to:
- notify the public that the RSO will be living in the community, and
- verify where the RSOs are living in our county.
GCSO has no involvement in the release from prison process.
GCSO can't tell RSOs where they can or can't live.
GCSO does not "place" any RSOs in communities.
RSOs are free to choose where and how they want to live.
If an RSO has any restrictions, we will include that information in the community notification. But, in the majority of cases, RSOs can live wherever they choose, including near schools.
RSOs can choose to be homeless since there is no law preventing that.
If an RSO chooses to be homeless, the law states that they must regularly come to the Sheriff's Office to check-in.
These are state laws, not county laws or ordinances.
If you would like to see changes in state laws, please contact your state representatives. They are elected to serve as your voice in government.
Offender Registration & Offender Watch Database
The Sex Offender Registration and Tracking Unit has the responsibility to track, locate, verify and record all 300 plus offenders who live within Grant County. All this information is provided to the State Patrol as well as entered into the Offender Watch database which is a sex offender tracking program used throughout the State of Washington and most States within the union. The Offender Watch data base can be accessed and any citizen can view published sex offenders in or near their neighborhoods. Only level II and level III sex offenders are published on this site.
In 2009 the Legislature passed Chapter 31 Laws of 2009, codifying and requiring, when funded, that the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs establish the Sex Offender Notification and Registration system (SONAR). The State funded the system that year and continues to provide that funding. In 2008 the State appropriated $5-million for fiscal year 2009 and provided it to WASPC to be distributed to all counties within the State. This funding was to be used for the Registered Sex Offender Address and Residency Verification Program. Again this funding was provided for the year 2010 with a slight cut of 9.33% across the board. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.44.135 lays out the process and requires the Chief Law Enforcement officer of the County locate and verify the residency of a registered sex offender within their jurisdiction.
Requirements Codified in RCW 36.28A
Address verifications are based on the following outline:
- Level 1 offenders, every 12 months
- Level 2 offenders, every 6 months
- Level 3 offenders every 3 months
Public Notifications of Sex Offender Residence
An informed public is a safer public. The Grant County Sheriff's Office releases this information pursuant to RCW 4.24.550, which authorizes law enforcement agencies to inform the public of a sex offender's release when the release of information will enhance public safety and protection. The Washington State Legislature has determined that the extent of the public disclosure of relevant and necessary information shall be related to:
- The level of risk posed by the offender to the community
- The location where the offender resides, intends to reside, or is regularly found
- The needs of the affected community members for information to enhance their individual and collective safety
Sex offenders have always lived in our communities and law enforcement has no legal authority to direct where sex offenders may or may not live. Unless court ordered restrictions exist, an offender is Constitutionally free to live wherever he or she chooses. However, the Community Protection Act of 1990 requires that those convicted of sex offenses or kidnapping must register, with the primary legislative intent, "to assist law enforcement agencies' efforts to protect their communities" by providing relevant and necessary information.
Offenders can Register as Homeless
There is no law that requires a registered sex offender to live in a house or apartment. They can choose to be homeless. In these cases, the offender checks in often at the Sheriff's Office.
Penalty for Harassing, Intimidating or Threatening Sex Offenders
Abuse of information provided through the sex offender notification process, in order to intimidate, harass or threaten registered offenders, will result in an investigation and the filing of criminal charges against the perpetrators. Such abuse could potentially end law enforcement's ability to conduct community notifications. The only person who 'wins,' if community notification is halted, is the registered sex offender, as sexual offenders derive their power through secrecy.