PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Washington Department of Corrections says Steven Powell cannot move back into his old neighborhood where the crimes he was convicted of took place.
Powell, 62, is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of 14 counts of voyeurism in May of 2012. A Tacoma jury found him guilty of taking photographs of two neighbor girls, then ages 8 and 10, with a telephoto lens while they were nude or partially nude in their bathroom. Powell is currently incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex.
He was eligible for early release Thursday. But under Washington state law, an inmate must first submit an "offender release plan" and have it approved by the Corrections Department. That plan must include details such as where he plans to live and work once he's released.
According to Powell's offender release plan, obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request, the Washington Department of Corrections has denied his request to return to live in his Puyallup home because of community concerns.
In the report, officials refer to the thousands of images seized from Powell's room by police of young girls who were filmed without their knowledge, and how the pictures focused mostly on the girls' buttocks and breasts. The report also mentioned the images of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell, his daughter-in-law, that were found in his house.
One part of the report also noted that Powell does not "have a verified high school diploma," although he said he has both a diploma and a college degree.
According to his release agreement that a judge signed when Powell was sentenced, he will not be allowed to have any contact with his victims once he is released and will be banned from possessing any camera or video recording equipment, sexually explicit materials, joining any social media Internet sites such as Facebook, and unsupervised Internet access including on mobile devices.
He will be required to obtain approved employment and living arrangements, enter a "state approved sexual deviancy treatment program," submit to polygraph and plethysmograph tests, register as a sex offender for 10 years in the county he is living in, and submit a DNA sample.
As part of their investigation into the disappearance of Susan Powell, the West Valley Police Department collected letters Steve Powell wrote to his children while incarcerated. Some of those letters were among documents released this week by the department.
Initially, Powell wrote that he did not have interest in moving back into his Puyallup house. His daughter, Alina Powell, actually encouraged her father not to move back into the house because of safety concerns and so that the house wouldn't become "a lightning rod for media."
But after the suicide of his son Michael Powell, in February, Steven Powell seemed to change his mind. In recent letters to his daughter, he wrote that he planned to live downstairs.
"I will feel more comfortable if I can be around family," he wrote. "At my age, I need family support more than the average person who is leaving this institution. Anyway, let's do whatever we can so that I can come home."
Powell also wrote in a letter dated April 15 that if he wasn't allowed to move back home, he would consider simply living in his van.
The report did not say if Powell, who worked as a civilian delivery driver for the Department of Corrections before his arrest, had a job lined up once he is released.
In his letters from prison, Powell noted that his family was struggling financially to make house payments. Since his arrest, his children Alina and John Powell have lived in the home. Powell's ex-wife, Terri Powell, also reportedly moved in recently, according to family members.6 comments on this story
Once an offender release plan is approved, an inmate will then have to spend 35 more days in prison while preparations are made for his release, such as notifying victims as well as law enforcement in the area that he is about to move there.
If a release plan is never approved, Powell would still get out of prison in April of 2014, the maximum time on his sentence.
Powell does not have any other family members in Washington, other than Alina and John who are living in the house he cannot go back to, according to corrections documents. He does have relatives in Oregon.