SEATTLE -- It’s going to be a first for the state of Washington. On Thursday, two sex offenders incarcerated in the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island will get married.
Since same-sex marriage is now legal in the state, the two men have the same rights as anyone else, even though they have been legally deemed to be sexually violent predators.
“It’s kind of a bizarre place to find love," Seattle resident Jasmine Joshua said, after hearing about the upcoming marriage at the SCC on McNeil Island.
The SCC is not a prison, although it is surrounded by high fences and razor wire. It’s a specialized treatment facility for sex offenders, operated by the state Department of Social and Health Services.
“The residents who live here are civilly committed, they’re not criminally committed,” said Don Gauntz, the interim CEO of the SCC. “Most of our residents have been in the criminal commitment setting, and have been deemed more likely than not to re-offend.”
Keith Elmore, a transgender who now goes by the name Rebecca, was convicted in 1995 of assault and kidnapping with sexual motivation.
On Thursday, he’s set to marry Hank Pollock, who according to The News Tribune of Tacoma, was convicted of five sex crimes against children in the 1980s and '90s.
It appears the two met at the SCC, where residents are allowed to interact with one another under supervision.
“There is more movement within the facility than a prison would allow, they are allowed more items in their room,” Gauntz said. “But the perimeter is secure and the residents aren’t allowed to leave and are monitored and counted throughout the day.”
Chris Case, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services, said Elmore and Pollock filled out the proper paperwork for a marriage and arranged to have a pastor officiate the ceremony for them for free. She said their living arrangements will not change after the wedding, and they will not have any more contact than they do right now. So there’s no reason to not allow the marriage, she added.
“I mean, if they have a legal right to get married, they have a legal right to get married,” Seattle resident Alan Spoelstra said.
“I guess that’s OK as long as they’re not hurting anyone,” added Joshua.
“As long as they’re isolated, that’s fine,” Seattle resident Lawrence Drexel said. “Just keep them away from the public and kids.”
According to The News Tribune, the wedding will be a Wiccan ceremony on Halloween, the start of the Wiccan New Year.