DENVER (CBS4) – At the Colorado state Capitol lawmakers have introduced two versions of a bill to make sure child sex offenders spend time in prison.
Each party has its own version of the bill. Right now Colorado is one of only a few states without a form of “Jessica’s Law.”
The issue has become strangely political. Republicans introduced a Jessica’s Law bill last year and Democrats killed it. Then, this year, the Democrats came up with their own version. So there are dueling Jessica’s Laws. Their intent the same — to increase prison sentences for the worst of the worst offenders.
“Vote yes on the bill and balance the scales of justice somewhat,” Matt Anchner asked lawmakers.
Anchner told lawmakers he was raped when he one year old and his perpetrator got just five years behind bars.
“The last time my perpetrator was paroled he came to my school in an attempt to abduct me,” he said. “He was unsuccessful, but later that week he was arrested for the rape of 13-year-girl.”
Annabelle Miglia was raped when she was 11. Her attacker was up for parole in 10 years.
“So I’ve lived my entire adulthood every year facing the parole board,” Miglia said.
And the man who raped Bev Funaro’s 9-year-old niece received no prison time.
“When she was told that her abuser was put on an ankle monitor and released to the world, the light went out of her clear, hazel eyes and has never returned,” Funaro said.
Victims made a powerful case for Colorado to adopt Jessica’s Law, named after Jessica Lunsford, a young Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered.
The Democrats’ bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, D-Boulder, would put child rapists away for a minimum of 10 to 24 years.
“This could triple the amount of time that these types of offenders spend in containment,” Foote said.
District attorneys were divided on the bills.
“It sets an appropriate floor, a higher floor, for certain sex offenses involving children where there would be no discretion for sentencing judges,” Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.
“If we’re going to compare ourselves, let’s compare ourselves to ultra conservative Washington, who also passed legalized marijuana. They have a 25-year to life sentence, we don’t,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brachler said.
The bill by Republicans would send child molesters to prison for at least 25 years. It’s expected to fail again. The bill by Democrats passed out of committee unanimously.