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January 29, 2009
Appellate Court upholds the constitutionality of the DSHS sex offender treatment program

JANUARY 29, 2008        NO. 009-011

OLYMPIA -- A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of the DSHS Special Commitment Center treatment program for sexually violent predators.

The Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the March 2007 action of U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez to dissolve a federal injunction against the SCC. At one point, DSHS faced a contempt fine of $11 million before completing improvements that satisfied the court. 

The underlying lawsuit, Turay v Richards, first went to trial in 1994. The last major court-required treatment improvement to the SCC was the opening of a transition facility in Seattle in 2005.

As he did two years ago, DSHS Deputy Secretary Blake Chard praised SCC staff for their hard work over the years to improve the mental health treatment of sex offenders. “We will continue to fine-tune our program to maintain its place as a leader in civil commitment programs,” Chard said.

“This is an important decision for the state’s sexually violent predator treatment program,” said Assistant Attorney General William Van Hook. “After meeting all of the requirements imposed by federal judges over the past 15 years, the Special Commitment Center has now been released from court supervision.  We see this decision as a validation of the tremendous efforts made by DSHS to establish an effective program that both treats the residents and keeps the community safe.”

The 292 SCC residents are housed and treated at facilities on McNeil Island, in Seattle and in supervised less-restrictive living quarters in various communities.

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Steve Williams, DSHS Media Relations, 360-902-7569

DSHS does not discriminate, and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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