Located on the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office’s website is a sex offender search, which maps registered sex offenders within .5-mile, 1-mile, 2-mile and 5-mile approximate radius of one’s address. 

The map discloses the name of the offender, a photo, his or her address, physical description and offenses. 

Within a half-mile from Gonzaga’s address at 502 E. Boone Ave., there are seven registered male sex offenders in four different locations, all classified as level II offenders.

Offenders are classified as level I if their risk assessment indicates that they’re a low risk to sexually reoffend within the community at large and are not published onto the Washington State Sex Offender Registry. 

Level II offenders are classified as a moderate risk to sexually reoffend within the community at large. Level III offenders classify as a high risk to sexually reoffend within the community at large. 

The seven offenders are spaced throughout the Logan Neighborhood.

Within one mile of campus, there are an additional 10 registered offenders in 12 locations, eight of whom are level III offenders. Within two miles of campus, there are 109 offenders in 71 different locations. There are also 136 transient sex offenders in Spokane who aren’t on the map. 

The Spokane Country Sheriff’s Office defines sex offenders as juveniles or adults who have committed a Class A, Class B, Class C felony or some gross misdemeanors and are required to register for life, 15 years or 10 years. 

Classifications for registered sex offenders are determined by considering varying factors regarding the offender and the nature of their crimes, in order to determine the possible risk to the general public, according to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. 

If the offender is under supervision by the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, he or she may be restricted on residency, proximity to children, curfew and alcohol or drug use. 

However, if offenders have completed their time under supervision, they may choose where to live without restrictions. 

According to the Department of Corrections of Washington state, approximately 20 percent of the inmates in Washington correctional facilities and 18 percent of individuals on community supervision are serving time for sexual crimes. 

The most common felony that brings sex offenders back to prison is failing to register. 

Ninety-seven percent of the sex offenders sentenced to prison will eventually return to the community, the department of corrections said on their website. 

The DOC offers both prison-based and community-based treatments that relies on the comprehensive risk and needs assessments, interview and other techniques to define unique treatment goals and strategies for offenders. 

“Treatment provided in prison serves as the foundation for offender participants who must then apply and generalize the skills and knowledge gained to a community setting,” the DOC website said. 

There are various housing locations in the Logan Neighborhood and West Central Spokane that have opted to become a place where the DOC can relocate registered sex offenders, said Spokane District One Councilwoman Kate Burke. 

“There’s a portion of the community that is like, ‘Oh my gosh we cannot have any sex offenders around us,’” Burke said. “But the interesting stat that I’ve seen is sex offenders are 60 percent less likely to reoffend if they are in housing living with other sex offenders.”

A program Burke is familiar with in the Logan Neighborhood is a Spokane man who facilities a housing program focused on getting registered offenders into housing and reallocated back into society by helping them obtain an ID and a job through partnerships he has. 

“He’s got a strict curfew, no women are allowed on the properties, they have to be sober — so really a stringent program,” Burke said. “He really makes sure that these people can come back and start a new life get acclimated into society in a successful way.”

After the registered offenders complete their probation periods, they then can move on and out to other housing. 

“I support projects like that because we can’t just keep turning our backs to people in our community,” Burke said. “The more we do that the further back were going to be pushed. We can’t move forward if the people behind us are stuck.” 

Registered sex offenders have always lived within communities, but it was not until the Community Protection Act of 1990 which mandates offenders to register their home address to law enforcement and authorize the release of their information to the public through community notification. 

The Community and Protection Act was intended to inform the community when a sex offender moves into the community and provide that neighborhood with education and resources. 

One can register to receive email alerts whenever a published offender registered within the selected radius of an address on the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office website. 

Community members will not be notified when the registered offender moves out of the community as the law only requires community members to be notified when registered offenders move into the community. 

Most sexual assaults that are perpetrated are by known acquaintances, as opposed to, for example, a stranger in the neighborhood, according to assistant director for well-being and prevention education Jenna Parisi.

“I wouldn’t want students to be unduly concerned about that because they wouldn’t be the primary targets for some type of perpetration,” Parisi said. “The majority of assaults we see on our campus are perpetrated by other students where they’ve been drinking and there is not communication.”

“What you want to continue to emphasis for people in terms of their own safety in the neighborhood is one of those … Zags help Zags types of situations and make sure you are aware of resources,” Parisi said. 

If students are wary about the number of offenders in the neighborhood, councilwoman Burke advises to take the normal precautions. She carries mace or bear spray with her and walks down dark alleyways with her phone dialed to 911 in hand. 

“I would also air on the humanistic side,” Burke said. “These are just people in our society and maybe if we keep shoving them out then they’re going to want to keep doing bad things. There in our neighborhoods and they’re living in our communities and they should be able to have jobs. That’s actually going to make them more successful.”

Victims of sexual assault can anonymously and confidentially call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE and Lutheran Community Services 24-hour sexual assault crisis line at (509) 624-7273. 

 

Arcelia Martin is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @arcelitamartin.

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