by: Richard Thompson Updated:
State Community Corrections Officers Jason Fiman and Pete Hall know thousands of criminal offenders could soon be roaming the streets of our state's cities and towns with no supervision if state lawmakers can't reach a budget deal in Olympia by midnight Sunday.
Officer Fiman tells KIRO-7 "Public safety will be at risk if we're not out there watching these guys some of these guys are pretty dangerous."
KIRO-7 rode along with the two officers on Monday as they checked in on several sex offenders on probation near Olympia. "My CCO knows where I'm at 24 hours a day." said sex offender Bill Starostka about his state supervision which includes continuous GPS monitoring. However the state Department of Corrections tells KIRO-7 if a budget stalemate in Olympia leads to a government shutdown about 15,000 criminal offenders will no longer be supervised.
"These rapist and murderers are gonna pretty much be let go. Nobody will watch them and they don't have to answer to anybody while the government is shut down," said Officer Fiman.
Sex offender Starostka agrees that having thousands of unsupervised convicts is a bad idea, saying "There would be problems, I have to admit there would be problems."
Officer Pete Hall says in addition to the public danger, there would also be a huge personal impact on a lot of state workers. "It could put a lot of families in turmoil." said Hall.
Late Monday afternoon the two Community Corrections officers heard progress was being made on the state budget deal needed to avoid a shutdown. Their message to lawmakers is simple. Hurry up.
Officer Fiman said "The public's safety is kind of in jeopardy here so they need to button down and get it worked through."
If the shutdown does occur, there will still be some Community Corrections officers working to supervise about 1,000 offenders from other states who are living in Washington. Our state is legally obligated to continue supervising those out-of-state offenders.