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4.24.545  <<  4.24.550 >>   4.24.5501

RCW 4.24.550

Sex offenders and kidnapping offenders — Release of information to public — Web site.

(1) In addition to the disclosure under subsection (5) of this section, public agencies are authorized to release information to the public regarding sex offenders and kidnapping offenders when the agency determines that disclosure of the information is relevant and necessary to protect the public and counteract the danger created by the particular offender. This authorization applies to information regarding: (a) Any person adjudicated or convicted of a sex offense as defined in RCW 9A.44.128 or a kidnapping offense as defined by RCW 9A.44.128; (b) any person under the jurisdiction of the indeterminate sentence review board as the result of a sex offense or kidnapping offense; (c) any person committed as a sexually violent predator under chapter 71.09 RCW or as a sexual psychopath under chapter 71.06 RCW; (d) any person found not guilty of a sex offense or kidnapping offense by reason of insanity under chapter 10.77 RCW; and (e) any person found incompetent to stand trial for a sex offense or kidnapping offense and subsequently committed under chapter 71.05 or 71.34 RCW.

     (2) Except for the information specifically required under subsection (5) of this section, the extent of the public disclosure of relevant and necessary information shall be rationally related to: (a) The level of risk posed by the offender to the community; (b) the locations where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found; and (c) the needs of the affected community members for information to enhance their individual and collective safety.

     (3) Except for the information specifically required under subsection (5) of this section, local law enforcement agencies shall consider the following guidelines in determining the extent of a public disclosure made under this section: (a) For offenders classified as risk level I, the agency shall share information with other appropriate law enforcement agencies and, if the offender is a student, the public or private school regulated under Title 28A RCW or chapter 72.40 RCW which the offender is attending, or planning to attend. The agency may disclose, upon request, relevant, necessary, and accurate information to any victim or witness to the offense and to any individual community member who lives near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found; (b) for offenders classified as risk level II, the agency may also disclose relevant, necessary, and accurate information to public and private schools, child day care centers, family day care providers, public libraries, businesses and organizations that serve primarily children, women, or vulnerable adults, and neighbors and community groups near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found; (c) for offenders classified as risk level III, the agency may also disclose relevant, necessary, and accurate information to the public at large; and (d) because more localized notification is not feasible and homeless and transient offenders may present unique risks to the community, the agency may also disclose relevant, necessary, and accurate information to the public at large for offenders registered as homeless or transient.

     (4) The county sheriff with whom an offender classified as risk level III is registered shall cause to be published by legal notice, advertising, or news release a sex offender community notification that conforms to the guidelines established under RCW 4.24.5501 in at least one legal newspaper with general circulation in the area of the sex offender's registered address or location. Unless the information is posted on the web site described in subsection (5) of this section, this list shall be maintained by the county sheriff on a publicly accessible web site and shall be updated at least once per month.

     (5)(a) When funded by federal grants or other sources, the Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall create and maintain a statewide registered kidnapping and sex offender web site, which shall be available to the public. The web site shall post all level III and level II registered sex offenders, level I registered sex offenders during the time they are out of compliance with registration requirements under RCW 9A.44.130, and all registered kidnapping offenders in the state of Washington.

     (i) For level III offenders, the web site shall contain, but is not limited to, the registered sex offender's name, relevant criminal convictions, address by hundred block, physical description, and photograph. The web site shall provide mapping capabilities that display the sex offender's address by hundred block on a map. The web site shall allow citizens to search for registered sex offenders within the state of Washington by county, city, zip code, last name, and address by hundred block.

     (ii) For level II offenders, and level I sex offenders during the time they are out of compliance with registration requirements under RCW 9A.44.130, the web site shall contain, but is not limited to, the same information and functionality as described in (a)(i) of this subsection, provided that it is permissible under state and federal law. If it is not permissible, the web site shall be limited to the information and functionality that is permissible under state and federal law.

     (iii) For kidnapping offenders, the web site shall contain, but is not limited to, the same information and functionality as described in (a)(i) of this subsection, provided that it is permissible under state and federal law. If it is not permissible, the web site shall be limited to the information and functionality that is permissible under state and federal law.

     (b) Until the implementation of (a) of this subsection, the Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall create a web site available to the public that provides electronic links to county-operated web sites that offer sex offender registration information.

     (6) Local law enforcement agencies that disseminate information pursuant to this section shall: (a) Review available risk level classifications made by the department of corrections, the department of social and health services, and the indeterminate sentence review board; (b) assign risk level classifications to all offenders about whom information will be disseminated; and (c) make a good faith effort to notify the public and residents within a reasonable period of time after the offender registers with the agency. The juvenile court shall provide local law enforcement officials with all relevant information on offenders allowed to remain in the community in a timely manner.

     (7) An appointed or elected public official, public employee, or public agency as defined in RCW 4.24.470, or units of local government and its employees, as provided in RCW 36.28A.010, are immune from civil liability for damages for any discretionary risk level classification decisions or release of relevant and necessary information, unless it is shown that the official, employee, or agency acted with gross negligence or in bad faith. The immunity in this section applies to risk level classification decisions and the release of relevant and necessary information regarding any individual for whom disclosure is authorized. The decision of a local law enforcement agency or official to classify an offender to a risk level other than the one assigned by the department of corrections, the department of social and health services, or the indeterminate sentence review board, or the release of any relevant and necessary information based on that different classification shall not, by itself, be considered gross negligence or bad faith. The immunity provided under this section applies to the release of relevant and necessary information to other public officials, public employees, or public agencies, and to the general public.

     (8) Except as may otherwise be provided by law, nothing in this section shall impose any liability upon a public official, public employee, or public agency for failing to release information authorized under this section.

     (9) Nothing in this section implies that information regarding persons designated in subsection (1) of this section is confidential except as may otherwise be provided by law.

     (10) When a local law enforcement agency or official classifies an offender differently than the offender is classified by the end of sentence review committee or the department of social and health services at the time of the offender's release from confinement, the law enforcement agency or official shall notify the end of sentence review committee or the department of social and health services and submit its reasons supporting the change in classification.

[2011 c 337 § 1; 2008 c 98 § 1. Prior: 2005 c 380 § 2; 2005 c 228 § 1; 2005 c 99 § 1; 2003 c 217 § 1; 2002 c 118 § 1; prior: 2001 c 283 § 2; 2001 c 169 § 2; 1998 c 220 § 6; prior: 1997 c 364 § 1; 1997 c 113 § 2; 1996 c 215 § 1; 1994 c 129 § 2; 1990 c 3 § 117.]

Notes:

     Effective date -- 2005 c 380: See note following RCW 9A.44.130.

     Conflict with federal requirements -- 2002 c 118: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid due to a conflict with federal law, the conflicting part of this act is inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict, and such holding does not affect the operation of the remainder of this act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances." [2002 c 118 § 3.]

     Severability -- 1998 c 220: See note following RCW 9A.44.130.

     Severability -- 1997 c 364: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [1997 c 364 § 9.]

     Findings -- 1997 c 113: "The legislature finds that offenders who commit kidnapping offenses against minor children pose a substantial threat to the well-being of our communities. Child victims are especially vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. The legislature further finds that requiring sex offenders to register has assisted law enforcement agencies in protecting their communities. Similar registration requirements for offenders who have kidnapped or unlawfully imprisoned a child would also assist law enforcement agencies in protecting the children in their communities from further victimization." [1997 c 113 § 1.]

     Findings -- Intent -- 1994 c 129: "The legislature finds that members of the public may be alarmed when law enforcement officers notify them that a sex offender who is about to be released from custody will live in or near their neighborhood. The legislature also finds that if the public is provided adequate notice and information, the community can develop constructive plans to prepare themselves and their children for the offender's release. A sufficient time period allows communities to meet with law enforcement to discuss and prepare for the release, to establish block watches, to obtain information about the rights and responsibilities of the community and the offender, and to provide education and counseling to their children. Therefore, the legislature intends that when law enforcement officials decide to notify the public about a sex offender's pending release that notice be given at least fourteen days before the offender's release whenever possible." [1994 c 129 § 1.]

     Finding -- Policy -- 1990 c 3 § 117: "The legislature finds that sex offenders pose a high risk of engaging in sex offenses even after being released from incarceration or commitment and that protection of the public from sex offenders is a paramount governmental interest. The legislature further finds that the penal and mental health components of our justice system are largely hidden from public view and that lack of information from either may result in failure of both systems to meet this paramount concern of public safety. Overly restrictive confidentiality and liability laws governing the release of information about sexual predators have reduced willingness to release information that could be appropriately released under the public disclosure laws, and have increased risks to public safety. Persons found to have committed a sex offense have a reduced expectation of privacy because of the public's interest in public safety and in the effective operation of government. Release of information about sexual predators to public agencies and under limited circumstances, the general public, will further the governmental interests of public safety and public scrutiny of the criminal and mental health systems so long as the information released is rationally related to the furtherance of those goals.

     Therefore, this state's policy as expressed in RCW 4.24.550 is to require the exchange of relevant information about sexual predators among public agencies and officials and to authorize the release of necessary and relevant information about sexual predators to members of the general public." [1990 c 3 § 116.]

     Index, part headings not law -- Severability -- Effective dates -- Application -- 1990 c 3: See RCW 18.155.900 through 18.155.902.

Release of information regarding
   convicted sex offenders: RCW 9.94A.846.
   juveniles found to have committed sex offenses: RCW 13.40.217.
   persons in custody of department of social and health services: RCW 10.77.207, 71.06.135, 71.09.120.