Judges in Washington State routinely gave too little treatment to sex offenders. The problem was caused by incorrect sentencing language on a court form. Courts have been relying on that form since 2008. As a result, many sex offenders received reduced community supervision and treatment time for some Washington sex offences.
Government Employees Knew About The Problem
Newly released documents reveal that courts and corrections officers knew about the problem since 2010. They did nothing to correct it. An email between state workers identified the sentencing problem. The issue was also a subject for discssion in a State government meeting. Meeting members were to discuss issues caused by the faulty form.
Courts in some counties used the felony judgment and sentencing form for the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) program. The chief aim of the program is to reduce the risk of future criminal behavior. SSOSA is only available for low level offenders who pose little risk ot the community. The program is effective because of the intensive treatment requirements.
Incorrect court form language cut treatment short for some offenders. Not only that, but the improper language reduced SSOSA jail time. That reduction caused officials to improperly calculate the appropriate amount of community supervision for offenders. Although, court officials fixed the form in January, problems remained.
The Department of Corrections, looking for errors, reviewed the sentences of current SSOSA program members. The review identified at least 73 sex offenders who received too little community supervision. The review found 32 other offenders who were supervised for too long. Officials ended monitoring for the latter group as soon as the error was discovered.