Washington judge considers fate of sex-offender files

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RICHLAND — A judge in Washington state will decide whether the public has access to detailed records of low-level sex offenders.

The Tri-City Herald reports that Judge Bruce Spanner heard arguments during a hearing Friday in Benton County Superior Court.

A Mesa woman, Donna Zink, has requested copies of records that include names, birthdays, phone numbers, pictures and other information for Level 1 sex offenders. Level 1 sex offenders are the most common and considered the least likely to reoffend, and law enforcement agencies say Level 1 registrants may be first-time offenders and that they typically know their victims.

Level 2 and 3 sex offenders have a higher risk of re-offending, and information about those people are regularly posted online by law enforcement agencies.

Zink said people have the right to know about convicted sex offenders in their area that may live or work near them. She received records from Franklin County, but Benton County officials notified the offenders, providing them a chance to challenge the release of the files.

Lawyers on the other side argue sex offenders will face harm if the files are released. They also argued the crimes of some were committed years ago and the offenders believe they have paid their dues and of have privacy rights.

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