Democrats in the Washington state legislature unveiled legislation that would add a convicted sex offender to a key policy board for sex offenses.
The SOPB is responsible for promoting a “coordinated and integrated response to sex offender management,” and was formed in 2008.
“One representative with lived experience with incarceration for a sex offense, appointed by the chair of the sex offense policy board and approved by a majority vote of the board’s voting 18 membership” would be added, according to the text of the legislation. The legislation would also add “a representative with lived experience as the victim of a sex offense,” according to an analysis of the bill from the Washington state legislature.
The legislation would potentially allow the most dangerous sex offenders to serve on the board, radio talk show host Jason Rantz reported.
“I think that we all do better when we have a diverse legislature. That’s why I’m here,” Democratic State Rep. Tarra Simmons of Washington, who previously served a prison sentence for drug and theft charges, said at a Jan. 16 House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry hearing for the bill. “And I’m proud to be here. I think I bring some lived experience that was missing from here. And while some people may have a stigma for people who have committed a sex offense, I think they have invaluable information to share that can really guide this board.”
A SOPB staff member spoke out in favor of the bill during the Jan. 16 hearing, according to KOMO news.
“This bill incorporates recommendations the board has previously indicated its support for regarding the use of person-first language,” Whitney Hunt said. “This change aligns with best practices and research and encompasses all the individuals involved and impacted by the sex offense management system, including victims.”