By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is appealing a controversial ruling over the state’s sex offender registry.
For 15 years, people convicted of sex crimes in Colorado have been required to register their addresses with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which makes them public. Last month, a district court judge ruled in favor of three convicted sex offenders, saying the registry is cruel and unusual punishment.
Coffman says courts in Colorado and across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have found the registry is constitutional.
“The justice system is about balance and I think the judge in this case, the balance was just a little bit off, and we have to fix that,” she said.
The judge’s decision was based in part on the offenders’ claims that the registry exposed them to retaliation that’s scarred them for life.
Coffman says their victims are scarred for life.
“I don’t have a similar sympathy hearing about it. I’m about upholding the rule of law. I’m not condoning harassment of sex offenders in any way … but this case can’t fix that. That’s not what this case is about.”
She says the case is about the constitutionality of a registry that every state and the federal government keeps and that she says is about protection not punishment, pointing out the three men involved in the case were all convicted of sexually assaulting children. One of the victims was 3 years old.
“We do know there is a propensity to reoffend … and people deserve the information and the ability to make a choice about how they protect themselves from that risk,” Coffman said.
While the ruling didn’t have an immediate impact on Colorado’s registry, sex offenders can use it to petition to have their names removed. Meanwhile, states across the country will be watching Coffman’s appeal to the 10th Circuit, which — depending on the outcome — could set a new precedent.