DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado District Attorneys’ Council is sounding the alarm over a bill that would require the Colorado Department of Corrections to study the possibility of releasing some felony sex offenders into the community without treatment.
The bill is focused on freeing up beds for inmates in private prisons so those facilities could be closed.
A budget analyst says up to a thousand low risk sex offenders could be transferred to community corrections.
But, Amanda Gall, the sex crimes prosecutor with the District Attorneys’ Council, says there is no such thing as low risk sex offenders in prison, “If you have committed crime that a judge has said you’re going to prison based on the heinous facts of this case, public safety should outweigh your right to be out in the community. Again, we’re talking about offenders against children, we’re talking about rape and sexual assault and it’s interesting to me – whether the goal is to solve a budget crisis or not – why the rest of the country would be moving toward greater accountability in the #MeToo era and Colorado would be contemplating moving backwards.”
Gall says she understands there is a lot of pressure to reduce the prison population – because of budget constraints and the desire to close private prisons – but she says sex offenders should not be used to accomplish that.
Representative Leslie Herod, one of the sponsors of the bill, suggests prosecutors are overreacting, noting the legislation hasn’t even been introduced let alone passed and it’s a study not a mandate.
The larger issue of treating sex offenders came up at Joint Budget Committee hearing Wednesday.
The director of the Department of Corrections told the Joint Budget Committee that – although treatment is required by law – hundreds of offenders refuse treatment and even those that are willing to participate end up on long wait lists.
More than 1,300 sex offenders in prison right now, he says, are on a wait list. Regardless of whether they get treatment, they will be released when their sentence is up.