Letters to the Editor

North Bend too far and not far enough

Siting a secure community transition facility (SCTF) east of North Bend would affect your back yard, too.

In a letter from eight members of the King County Council to Dennis Braddock, secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services, it was proposed that a facility for the state’s most violent sexual predators in the Forest Production District would be located in rural King County, near North Bend. This letter completely overlooked the fact that the proposed SCTF for sexual offenders cannot meet emergency response time requirements, is next door to a school, probably in violation of the Endangered Species Conservation Act, and violates the county’s own zoning ordinance which specifically prohibits siting an SCTF in rural areas. In addition, the east King County location may not have adequate radio, cellular and GPS coverage to be in compliance with state law.

Let’s face it, no one wants an SCTF in their back yard. Moving the SCTF east of North Bend may not meet the federal mandate of not isolating SCTF residents on an Island; isolating the residents on the island appears too much like a prison. The residents have served their criminal sentences and legally cannot be incarcerated after being released from prison. How is isolating residents in a forest any different from isolating residents on an island?

The purpose of the judge’s ruling was to allow the residents to integrate with society. The proposed SCTF location east of North Bend is actually more remote than the location on the island, with more commute time to jobs and treatment centers, and may not meet Judge Rothstein’s requirements for guaranteeing the rights of civilly committed residents.

We can’t afford to build a multi-million-dollar facility 40 miles east of Seattle and later find out that it does not meet federal mandates. Let’s do it right in the first place. The SCTF should be located in an industrial area away from risk areas like schools, yet close enough to jobs, shopping and treatment centers. Moving the SCTF off of McNeil Island and into an isolated forest in the Cascade Mountains range will not hide the residents where they are not seen or heard of again. On the contrary, they will still have to come to your town to work, for treatment of their addictions, to see their lawyer, to go shopping. And if they escape, they may be living on your favorite hiking and bike trails.

Konrad Roeder

North Bend

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