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Governor signs new laws introduced by local leaders
bill signingGov. Jay Inslee signed two bills into law that will protect our community from those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens.
The first bill, requested by Prosecutor Mark Lindquist and sponsored by Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, will aid in protecting vulnerable adults from physical abuse and financial exploitation.
This new law requires police officers to arrest any person they have probable cause to believe has violated a temporary protection order regarding the abuse of vulnerable adults, such as the elderly or disabled, a power police didn’t previously possess.
“Many elder abuse cases involve financial fraud, such as gaining access to an elderly person's bank account,” said Lindquist. “We want to be able to move quickly before the bank account is bled dry.”
Police currently have the power to arrest a person without a warrant for violating a temporary protection order in domestic abuse cases, but not in cases involving vulnerable adults.
"House Bill 1316 corrects a serious oversight in current law that has left our elderly and our disabled adult populations vulnerable to abuse," said Stambaugh. "This bill will make an important difference for many of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted about three times as many elder abuse cases in 2014 as it did in 2011. This doesn’t mean that elder abuse is on the rise, though. Public awareness campaigns led by the Prosecutor’s Office and Crime Stoppers are teaching citizens how to spot and report abusive situations.
Prosecutor Lindquist and Elder Abuse Team Chief Erika Nohavec are available to speak to community groups about preventing and responding to elder abuse.
The second piece of legislation signed into law was a bipartisan bill written by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, and supported by Senator Jeannie Darneille, D, Senator Steve O’Ban, R, and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist to change how the state handles the release of sex offenders back into the community.
The amended law will allow judges to consider not only the well-being of the offender's victims, but also the availability of sex offender treatment facilities and whether a disproportionate number of offenders are being released into a county or local community.
While Pierce County makes up just 12% of the state’s population, it is home to 16% of the state’s registered sex offenders. Some of those offenders are released into our community from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, which houses an especially dangerous group of violent sex predators. Between 2010 and 2015, 21 out of 29 sex offenders released from the SCC took up residence in Pierce County. Only four of them were living in Pierce County when they committed their crime.
“Pierce County should not be a dumping ground for sex offenders,” said Lindquist. “This bill helps restore balance and fairness in how dangerous sex offenders are released in Washington State.”

In Washington, prisoners are under the control of the Department of Corrections. Recent legislation requires the DOC to return prisoners to their home county when released. Since offenders at the SCC are under the control of the Department of Social and Health Services, that law doesn’t apply to them. This amendment will fix that loophole.
“Seven or eight years ago, there was a fair share bill that addressed folks released from a traditional prison environment,” said Kilduff. “What this bill does is it puts special commitment releases in the same process.”