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Is reform on the way for Colorado’s sex offender registry

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2021 | Sex Crimes

Colorado’s sex offender registry currently numbers approximately 20,000 state residents. Lawyers, legislators, and those serving on the registry are pushing for much-needed reform.

The Sex Offender Management Board manages the registry (SOMB). Those seeking change believe that the board wields far too much power and focuses more on demoralizing punishments than treatments and therapy. They also question SOMB’s effectiveness in ensuring overall community safety.

Wasteful spending and conflicts of interest

Their “rule” captured the attention of Colorado’s state auditor in 2020, who discovered serious problems with the board that included:

  • Severe lack of transparency
  • Wasteful spending of approximately $44 million annually starting in 2017
  • Resistance to effective, evidence-based methods
  • Board members voting certain ways to benefit their own firms
  • Serious delays in getting parole-eligible offenders into treatment

According to the state, the cumulative result of these findings has resulted in nearly 50 convicted sex offenders being released from prison last year without any treatment. Meanwhile, SOMB board members are allegedly squandering state funding while enriching themselves.

Those seeking reform have pushed legislative efforts to shrink the size of the board while providing access to treatment providers who could provide much-needed insight into treatment alternativeness. Advocates for change also want to eliminate the term “sexually violent predator” from statutes and limit questionable polygraph examinations.

However, pushback from district attorneys across the state resulted in watered-down efforts and postponing more severe measures into a likely uncertain future.

Admittedly, legislators are hesitant to tackle a controversial issue that could put their election prospects at stake. However, a deeper dive into a vast wealth of evidence could result in more effective measures that still protect the state’s populace.

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