SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR (SVP):

Someone who has been convicted of a sexually violent crime and has a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person more likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.

Civilly committed SVPs are held indefinitely at the Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island until their mental condition improves such that they may be released into society. Civil commitment in Washington State is a treatment program and has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. As SVPs progress in their treatment program, opportunities must be provided, as mandated by the Federal District Court for Western Washington, for SVPs to demonstrate their reduced risk through less restrictive alternative (LRA) placements. Washington State responded with the establishment of secure community transition facilities (SCTFs) to provide LRA placements for SVPs. Currently, Washington State has two SCTFs, one with a twenty-four bed capacity on McNeil Island and one in King County with a six-bed capacity (expanding to twelve-bed capacity in 2020).

There are currently 69 SVPs conditionally released from the SCC to LRA placements. In addition to SCTFs as LRAs, the law allows any other court-ordered LRA placement for SVPs as described below.

1. Secure Community Transition Facility: A residential facility used for the conditional release of civilly committed SVPs to an LRA placement. An SCTF has supervision and security, and either provides or ensures the provision of sex offender treatment services.

2. Any other court-ordered placement: Used for the conditional release of civilly committed SVPs to an LRA placement; includes apartments, private homes, group homes, transitional houses, halfway houses, and adult family homes. These placements may be contracted by DSHS to both for-profit and non-profit companies.

SCTFs are highly regulated by numerous state laws to ensure public safety. They are mandated to maintain very high standards of site placement, security, staffing and operation, including, but not limited to:

  • Average response times and proximity to emergency services.
  • Not across the street from schools, bus stops, churches, parks, etc.
  • Not within line of site of schools, bus stops, churches, etc.
  • Limited visibility between facility and adjacent properties.
  • Facility must be fenced.
  • Electronic monitoring which allows SVP locations to be determined with specificity.
  • Commercial grade security panel with tamper-proof switches and key lock.
  • Emergency electrical system with backup battery and generator.
  • Personal panic devices for all staff.
  • Security system monitoring by landline telephone, cellular telephone AND private radio network.
  • Staff required to wear photo-ID badges at all times.
  • Direct care staff ratio requirements.
  • Staff training requirements: sex offender issues, self-defense, crisis de-escalation skills, etc.
  • Staff background checks required; no sex offender or felony convictions allowed.
  • Escort required when SVP leaves facility.
  • Public notification of siting with hearings.
  • Local government involvement with siting.
  • Establish and engage with a community advisory board for recommendations and modifications of operations.
  • Proximity to qualified treatment provider; treatment provider has agreed to assume responsibility for treatment.

Unlike SCTFs, which are heavily regulated by law, any other court-ordered placements require only that conditions be imposed that would “adequately protect the community.” NO OTHER LAWS regulate the operation of these placements. No community notification requirements, no siting restrictions, no laws to provide actual community protections.

Washington State laws ABSOLUTELY FAIL to provide adequate community protection when civilly committed SVPs are conditionally released outside of an SCTF to other court-ordered LRA placements within our communities.

WASHINGTON STATE FOR PUBLIC SAFETY OPPOSES THE PLACEMENT OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS TO ANY OTHER PLACE THAN AN SCTF. LEGISLATION IS NEEDED TO ENSURE THAT THERE ARE NO OTHER PLACEMENT OPTIONS FOR SVPs.

Click here to download or print the WSPS Policy On Sexually Violent Predator Less Restrictive Alternative Placement To Secure Community Transition Facilities in PDF format.