April 11, 2014

Yakima County judge to hear arguments on request for sex-offender data

4-11-2014 Washington:

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima County Superior Court judge will hear arguments today on whether to give a Mesa woman names and addresses of all low-level sex offenders in the county.

Judge Blaine Gibson will also hear a request from attorney Greg Scott to certify his suit to block the release of the names as a class action on behalf of all 688 Level 1 sex offenders in Yakima County. Level 1 sex offenders are considered least likely to offend again, and their names are typically not posted by authorities. The names of Level 2 and 3 offenders are routinely released as they change addresses.

The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Yakima County Courthouse.

Scott’s suit names Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and Donna Zink as defendants.

Zink requested copies of the registration papers of all Level 1 sex offenders from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office in November. Zink is creating her own public database of all sex offenders in the state, and has received a list of Level 1 offenders from Franklin County.

Scott said Zink’s request to Irwin should be denied because the Legislature never intended for Level 1 sex offender names to be released publicly, except in rare circumstances and only to those who need the information.

Scott said releasing the names would harm the offenders, especially if a court later rules the information should not have been released.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stefanie Weigand said the state’s Public Records Act does not exempt the offenders’ information from being released. She said denying Zink’s request would expose the county to liability for denying the records request.

In January, a Benton County Superior Court judge denied Zink’s request for data on Level 1 sex offenders in that county, and a King County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the Washington State Patrol from releasing Level 1 offender information to Zink. ..Source.. by Donald W. Meyers

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