• Local leaders fight plan to put sex offenders in adult family homes

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Local leaders are fighting back against a plan to release three level three sex offenders from McNeil Island to live in adult family homes in Lakewood.

    Sen. Steve O'Ban, (R) - Pierce County, 28th District, sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee pleading for a new plan.
     
    O'Ban says right now level-three sex offenders - Gerald Johnson, Robert Aronson and Daniel Holdren - are on McNeil Island. The were sent to the special commitment center after serving their time in prison, but O'Ban says the state thinks they're ready for a less-restrictive alternative.

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    ‚ÄčAccording to the sex offender registry, Gerald Johnson pleaded guilty in 1993 to murdering an 11 year-old-girl, and admitted he sexually assaulted more than 20 young girls.

    O'Ban is fighting the state's plan to place them in adult family homes in Lakewood.

    "Why they would locate these individuals there, defies reason," said O'Ban. "Of course I'm afraid they'll re-offend and hurt some other child and ruin and destroy some other families."

    He questions why DSHS would place them in adult family homes, alongside some of the community's most vulnerable residents.

    Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson is fighting in court to keep offenders like Johnson out of Lakewood.

    "It appears DSHS has embarked on a path of putting violent sex offenders and killers in adult family homes in Lakewood as an easy method of off-loading them from more expensive facilities. Adult family homes were never meant for that," said Don Anderson, mayor of Lakewood.

    The city of Lakewood filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington, DSHS, Western State Hospital, the Aging and Long-term Support Administration and the owner of an adult family home in Lakewood's Oakbrook Neighborhood, where the city says four sex offenders are already living.

    KIRO-7 called that adult family home in Oakbrook for comment and was told it is being handled by their lawyers.

    KIRO-7 asked DSHS for an interview, instead DSHS sent a statement:

    "The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) does not determine whether or not Special Commitment Center residents are placed into a Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA). Less Restrictive Alternatives are approved by the court. The Department of Corrections researches the proposed placement, and the courts ultimately decide if a resident is moved from McNeil Island to an LRA.
    LRA residents wear ankle bracelets that are monitored by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and must follow a pre-determined treatment plan. Violations could result in their return to the Special Commitment Center."

    O'Ban and Anderson want DSHS to release sex offenders to enhanced services facilities, and if there aren't enough, to open more, instead of turning to adult family homes in Lakewood.

    "Something's bound to happen, it's only a matter of time. They were never meant for violent sex offenders. They were meant for people who need assistance," said Anderson.

    O'Ban believes Lakewood has become a dumping ground for sex offenders.

    "It has become a dumping ground and it has continued to be a dumping ground for DSHS," said O'Ban.

    According to the sex offender registry the three offenders who could be released to adult family homes in Lakewood aren't from Pierce County and didn't offend there, they're from Mason County, Spokane County and Thurston County.

    O'Ban thinks Lakewood is chosen by the state because of convenience, it's close to McNeil Island and Western State. O’Ban and Anderson think the state is trying to save money by using adult family homes instead of enhanced services facilities, which require more staff.

    They want the sex offenders spread out throughout the state.

    The city of Lakewood is still pursing its lawsuit.

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