We must toughen state sex-offender laws

Last month, Kenneth Demone Sims, a convicted sex offender from Renton, was charged with three counts of rape.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, August 5, 2008 1:16pm
  • Opinion

Last month, Kenneth Demone Sims, a convicted sex offender from Renton, was charged with three counts of rape.

Sims was first convicted in 1991 for rape in the second degree. Though classified as a Level 3 sex offender with a high likelihood of re-offending, he was released from prison in 1996, as required by state law.

Now we are potentially faced with three more victims harmed by this man right here in Renton, thanks to our state’s flawed justice system. Level 3 sex offenders are a ticking time bomb and studies indicate that they are likely to commit more crimes, if released back into the community.

What is the state doing to protect our families and neighbors from people like Sims who hurt and terrorize the innocent?

The answer is simple. Not enough. We need to push for legislation to stop this insidious phenomenon of parolees and convicted criminals finding their way back into the community to brutalize yet another victim.

In 2006, state Attorney General Rob McKenna proposed the new “Two Strikes, You’re Out” law. Under this law, Sims, the suspect in Renton, would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of any of the current charges.

While this is a good start, we need to do more.

King County Sheriff’s detectives and local police are already overwhelmed with the daunting task of monitoring the 3,900 registered sex offenders here in King County.

With immense budget shortfalls predicted both locally and at the state level, state legislative action could significantly help protect our communities from offenders such as Sims. The Legislature must pass laws to prevent these repeat offenses from ever occurring.

Our current state laws preclude local elected officials from taking measures and passing local legislation to protect the community against convicted sex offenders.

We are unable to create effective zoning regulations that would protect our schools and day-care centers.

And while we would all agree that we don’t want registered (or unregistered) sex offenders living in our neighborhoods, the real solution is not to release these Level 3 sex offenders in the first place. The state has taken away the ability of our law enforcement to proactively prevent these crimes, and all we can do is watch, wait and respond to the next offense.

We must demand answers and action from Olympia. Ask your state representatives to give us, your local elected officials in counties and cities, the tools we need to protect our citizens from these dangerous individuals.

We can’t do this alone. It will take the concerted efforts of all of us to bring about the change necessary to accomplish this. We need to enact significant reform today so that no sex offender has the opportunity to commit another crime — for that second strike tomorrow.

King County Council member Reagan Dunn of Maple Valley represents District 9, including the cities of Renton, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Covington, Enumclaw, Kent, Maple Valley, and Newcastle. Denis Law serves as the mayor of Renton.

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