Public Safety

Public Safety

With the Community Protection Act of 1990, Washington became the first state to pass a law (RCW 71.09) authorizing indefinite civil commitment for people who meet the criteria of a sexually violent predator.  The Community Protection Act established the Special Commitment Center program to protect public safety.  Washington’s program was the first of its kind in the nation and serves as an example for others both nationally and internationally.  Learn more about public safety and registered sex offender information at the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs website

Total Confinement Facility Public Safety and Security

The SCC's total confinement facility is located on McNeil Island, a 20-minute ride from the Steilacoom ferry dock.  Once reaching the Island, residents are transported to the facility by bus.  Measures taken to ensure public safety are:

  • A security system that provides a constant means of surveillance for all SCC units and areas within its perimeter.
  • Training designed to provide staff with the means to protect others and themselves and to deal with dangerous/difficult residents.
  • A security team whose members provide around the clock security for the facility.  These team members receive training through instructors who are certified by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

LRAs Public Safety and Security Measures

SCC oversees two types of less restrictive alternatives: secure community transition facilities and community LRAs.  While SCTFs must follow additional levels of security and staff supervision per state law, all LRAs must meet several security requirements.

The coordination and teamwork of SCTF program staff, sex offender treatment provider, the Department of Corrections community corrections officer, and local law enforcement are essential to ensuring community protection.  

Security measures include:

  • The court sets specific conditions for individuals conditionally released to LRAs. State law requires sex offender treatment providers and community corrections officers to immediately report violations of those conditions to the court. The resident can be detained by law enforcement or returned to the total confinement facility pending the outcome of a hearing.  The court will determine whether or not the resident will return to their original conditional release LRA, or will be required to return to total confinement at the SCC.
  • Escape is a Class A Felony that carries a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.  Escape includes unauthorized leave or absence from the facility, place of employment, educational institution, or authorized outing; tampering with or removing electronic monitoring devices; or escape from an escort.
  • Unless a court orders otherwise, each resident must be supervised on a one-to-one basis by a trained staff or court-authorized escort (such as a community corrections officer or sex offender treatment provider) whenever the resident leaves the LRA premises.  The staff/escort must remain in close proximity to the resident during the outing.
  • Advanced planning of community trips.  Residents are allowed to leave LRAs’ premises only for specific purposes, as authorized by a court order, and only with prior approval of the residents’ transition teams.  Reasons for leaving LRAs may include treatment, employment interviews, employment, training and other activities, such as visits with family or friends or shopping.
  • Individual electronic monitoring devices.  Each resident must wear an individual electronic (GPS) monitoring device.
  • Restrictions related to LRA locations.  LRAs must be a minimum of 500 feet from childcare facilities and public or private schools providing instruction to kindergarten or any grades one through 12

Since SCTFs offer a higher level of security and support, they are also required to provide the following:

  • The law requires the SCTF to provide staffing ratios.  At both SCTF sites, state law sets minimum staffing at no fewer than three staff per housing unit.
  • SCTFs have security systems, including closed-circuit cameras that monitor living areas and facility grounds, and staff-controlled exits to outdoor areas.
  • Staff training, including providing background of each resident’s offense history and behavior patterns.  Although staff and escorts do not carry weapons, they are equipped with mobile phones and transport vehicles are equipped with police radios.