After our overview of the different sex offender levels in Washington State, we’d like to tackle a few commonly asked questions about offenders who have served their time and are now living in the community.
How can I see if a sex offender is living in my neighborhood?
Washington State has a sex offender registry website, which you can use to search for offenders in a given area. Keep in mind that only Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are listed in this database. Level 1 offenders aren’t included as they are considered a low risk for reoffending.
Is the community notified when a sex offender moves into the area?
Offenders must register with the county sheriff within 72 hours of settling in a new community. The sheriff then puts out public bulletins. You can sign up for an email alert, so you know right away.
Are offenders free to go wherever and do whatever they want?
Yes, once they have served their time, they can move around the community freely. Offenders are often released on probation, also known as “community supervision,” and must participate in a treatment program, while others completed their treatment while they were in prison.
Most offenders must submit to regular polygraph tests and have several surprise face-to-face check-ins each year while on probation.
Can a sex offender have themselves removed from the registry?
Yes, there is an ongoing review process for offenders and, over time and with the proper cooperation and treatment, some offenders can petition to have themselves removed from the list. It’s also possible for an uncooperative offender to be re-classified to a higher level.
Frequently, the people seeking to have themselves removed from the registry were juveniles at the time of the crime, who have reformed and want to move forward with their lives, uninhibited by the mistakes of their past.
Juvenile offenders must go two to five years without committing a crime, depending on their age at the time of the offence. Adults must go 10 years without committing a crime.
If you have other questions about sex offenders, contact your county sheriff’s office. If you feel strongly about changing sex offender laws, contact your local state legislator.