The two Camas sisters who inspired 18th District Sen. Ann Rivers to introduce Senate Bill 6069 were on-hand for the recent bill signing.
As part of the bill, effective June 12 victims will be able to request notice from the state Department of Corrections when a specific sex offender is released or transferred. They can also request that the offender refrain from contacting the victim and/or immediate family members.
Previously, there were no laws restricting offenders from contacting their victims after they had served their sentences and been released from jail.
While Jennifer Chilton, 39, and Kimberly Abell, 35, were living in California their abuser — who happened to be their father — tracked them down after being released from prison. Chilton said when they notified the district attorney’s office, they were told there was nothing they could do to protect themselves.
“This had to change – for us and for all of the other victims out there,” Chilton said. “That’s when my sister and I got to work to change California law, which is where we were living at the time. It took a long time, but a bill passed and finally became law in 2006. My sister and I now call the great state of Washington home, but it didn’t take us long to realize that Washington law books were void of the protection we fought so hard for in California.”
According to Rivers (R- La Center) the bill’s impacts could be significant.
“It’s a great feeling to know that this bill will help give victims a peace of mind,” she said. “I’m so thankful that Kimberly and Jennifer were brave enough to come to me with their story and fight for something that should’ve already been established years ago. It’s a simple bill, but it has the potential to make a huge impact in the lives of many people across the state, and I think we should be doing whatever we can to protect victims of sexual abuse and their families.”