Tenino residents speak out against planned housing for sex offenders

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More than 30 residents aired their opposition to a planned housing project for sex offenders in Tenino during the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, January 17.

Residents, composed of former public servants, decade-long Tenino community members, concerned citizens, and domestic violence survivors, said they received little to no information or prior notice about the proposed housing project.

"This is a really frightening experience for all of us," said resident Joyce Tyson.

Former Thurston County Commissioner Kevin O'Sullivan was among the residents who attended the meeting.

"People are up here because they feel threatened," O'Sullivan said.

O’ O'Sullivan said Commissioner Carolina Mejia called him before the meeting to ask how they stopped the project during his time.

Residents asked the county commissioners to join them in pushing back against the housing project to be run by Supreme Living LLC.

Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders said it is still unclear what his office can and cannot do regarding safety concerns. “You can't get much [more] rural than Tenino.”

"As the sheriff, I have to know where I stand legally. I have to know where to guide my deputies moving forward," Sanders explained. "How do we protect our individuals?"

Sanders said it would be a big problem if the housing project started to operate without clear guidance on whose jurisdiction it would fall under.

"It's not a matter of if they will abscond,” remarked Sanders, “It's a matter of when they will abscond." Abscond, in this instance, references the risk of them fleeing the location. “This is permanent housing, this isn't transitional,” he said.

"I am concerned for the safety of my family. There is an inadequate safety plan for it," said firefighter Ivan Hold. "Do whatever you need to. Use your powers as commissioners to stop this."

Resident Shelly Heini said their community's plan to build a playground would be compromised if the project continues.

"We are a very tight-knit community," said Heini. "We don't know what we need to do, but we want to know how we are going to be safe."

Tenino residents also brought up the poor internet connection in the area, adding that it would be detrimental to the security of the place if the proposed housing project continues.

Commissioner Gary Edwards assured the residents that the board is on their side.

"We're going to push," said Edwards. "We're going to do what we can."

County Manager Ramiro Chavez said he would be engaging with the Prosecutor's Office to know the potential legal options of commissioners regarding this concern.

The JOLT is still waiting for Supreme Living LLC’s feedback as of press time.

Comments

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  • Honestyandrealityguy

    I wonder why many of those people are simply not jailed?

    Wednesday, January 18 Report this

  • Callie

    I worked for years as a Sexual Assault Examiner, and as an STD/ reproductive health nurse practitioner, I'm not naïve about abuse.

    However, I also know of a man who was sent to prison for a "not deviant" sexual encounter. He was offered *** by a middle-schooler who played hooky from middle school, met him in the High School cafeteria, claimed to be older. As an adult, she has signed an affidavit that it was a tender, sweet relationship - however, he turned 18, became then an adult offender - now treated for life as if he is a pedophile. When, in my work, I called police in my role as mandatory reporter, there was a swift determination to look for trafficking or exploitation. In a case like this - the girl would be offered counseling, and perhaps required to see us for STD testing and education.

    This non-drug using high school grad, headed for the Marines, was asked to do something illegal, with the threat that he would be turned in for the sexual relationship. He refused to do something illegal, was identified to police, he pled guilty. He now has a good job. He NEEDS a place to live. Don't assume everyone with the *** offender label is a current danger. Actual risk for all *** offenders of re-offending is low. And this guy - just needs the stability that will help him manage life with a label.

    Wednesday, January 18 Report this

  • TonyW33

    While I can appreciate the comment about the likelihood of re-offending if released, and have also read the statistically relevant information, please remember that these are proposed to be level 3 offenders. They were all convicted of a serious crime and served lengthy sentences in prison. Then they were confined involuntarily by a court order because they were judged to be incapable of safely participating in our society freely. They aren't being released. They are being moved from McNeil Island to this new location purely as a cost saving measure. It is deemed to be cheaper to have them housed in Tenino rather than at the old state prison. While this might be acceptable if handled correctly, it is neither acceptable nor correctly handled. Impenetrable fencing with locks on all access points and 24-7 security for the site by qualified and authorized policing personnel should the minimum requirement. We citizens/ voters have a right to be safe and secure in our homes and neighborhoods. This proposal, as planned, violates that basic tenet of citizenship in a self governing democracy.

    Saturday, January 21 Report this

  • Callie

    Thank you Tony W for the clarification, that this is "instead of McNeil Island". That IS different than the guy-with-a-job-who had relations as a-teen-with-a-willing-teen that I was thinking of.

    Here is a quote from an article linked below:

    S** offender registries include a lot of people who are low-risk from the outset: a teenager who had consensual *** with another teenager, people who possessed erotic images of anyone under 18 but never even attempted to commit any contact offense, and even, depending on the state, someone convicted of public urination.

    A Justice Department study found that more than a quarter of all s** offenders were minors at the time of their offense. People may assume the registry’s purpose is to warn people about those who committed violent, coercive, or exploitative contact offenses, but they’re in fact filled up with people who never did any of those things.

    https://ww1.womenagainstregistry.org/ellman

    Wednesday, January 25 Report this