Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Maybe This Year They'll Do Something...

On Monday, April 25, 2005, several Coeur d'Alene residents attended the Coeur d'Alene City Council's General Services Committee meeting to listen and speak about a hastily-added agenda item concerning convicted sex offenders living in Coeur d'Alene. The meeting was chaired by Ben Wolfinger and attended as well by Councilmembers Al Hassell and Deanna Goodlander. Additionally, Representative George Sayler and Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) Director Tom Beauclair were present.

Some, though by no means all, of the information presented at the meeting was reported in the Tuesday, April 26, 2005, Coeur d'Alene Press article headlined Tougher Sex Offender Laws Sought.

To fully understand the cynicism in the title of this post, the reader needs to also understand that last year about this time, several residents of Coeur d'Alene Place informed the City Council about four convicted felons on state supervised probation or parole living together in a rental house in Coeur d'Alene Place in clear violation of the city's zoning ordinance. It was noteworthy that Coeur d'Alene's Chief of Police, Wendy Carpenter, was completely unaware of a state law requiring the Sheriff to notify her department of the names and addresses of paroled felons living in Coeur d'Alene. Thus, it was the neighbors and not the police who informed the Council of the felons' presence. The City concluded its zoning ordinance was unenforceable.

In trying to have those felons evicted, the Coeur d'Alene Place residents understood the Department of Correction's plight in needing to place probationers and parolees in Coeur d'Alene. In correspondence with elected officials including City Councilmembers, Representative Sayler, and Senator John Goedde, we made it very clear that we wanted to work with state and local governments to find solutions that would balance public safety with the inevitablility of probationers and parolees being placed in our neighborhoods. The residents hoped to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Ultimately, after numerous probation and parole violations, the Department of Correction concluded that putting four convicted felons together, unsupervised, in a rental house in Coeur d'Alene Place might not have been the swiftest of moves. The Department removed them.

In the year that has passed since the Coeur d'Alene Place incident, the City Council failed to take any positive actions to remedy the zoning ordinances. More importantly, the Council failed to contact any of the involved residents to seek our involvement in finding solutions. Neither Representative Sayler nor Senator Goedde demonstrated any interest in pursuing solutions legislatively.

My post Coeur d'Alene Registered Sex Offenders - Part II on April 20, 2005, outlined the most recent community concern that led to the agenda item on the General Services Committee meeting yesterday.

Whatever his reason for attending the meeting, IDOC Director Tom Beauclair was welcome. Unfortunately committee chairman Wolfinger obsequiously thought it necessary to insult audience members by publicly cautioning us to be courteous to Mr. Beauclair. Mr. Beauclair answered our questions and addressed our comments very patiently, but he added little to the discussion simply because unlike some members of the City Council, most audience members understood the IDOC's role in the present issue of sex offender residences is limited to offenders still on state-supervised probation or parole.

It was clear to everyone, hopefully including Representative Sayler, that Idaho's sex offender classification and registration laws need revising. One audience participant, a registered sex offender based on a single conviction for statutory rape twenty years ago when he was "young and stupid", recounted how he is still being penalized and ostracized because of the state's archaic sex offender classification system. What this man should have heard, and we hope he did, is that members of his community agree with him. The community wants meaningful and effective change. Unfortunately, Idaho's legislature seems to have its institutional mind firmly planted in the late nineteenth - early twentieth century.

Convicted felons, including registered sex offenders, who have served their prison sentences or who have successfully completed probation or parole are going to live in Coeur d'Alene. That is an irrefutable fact. It is in the community's best interests that community members, not just the police and elected officials, participate in ways to imaginatively and safely integrate them into the community. As Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

The residents at the General Services Committee meeting last night, like the Coeur d'Alene Place residents of a year ago, also have offered to participate. Maybe this year, unlike last, the Coeur d'Alene City Council won't ignore the offer.



Anonymous stebbijo said...

Thought I would share another link that has come to my attention for searchs per zip code.

Public Data

3:59 PM, April 26, 2005  

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