By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Sixteen years after a grieving dad helped pass a state law meant to hold violent offenders accountable, part of that law could be undone. Lynn’s Law is named after Lynn Cannata.

Joe Cannata (credit: CBS)

She and her unborn baby were murdered 32 years ago. Her dad, Joe, fought for nine years to pass a law that would require violent offenders to serve at least 75% of their sentences.

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Now, he says, lawmakers are trying to weaken it.

“It seems like everything that we’ve tried to do to give victims some peace of mind, they want to undo it.”

Sen. Pete Lee, the sponsor of a bill, says this is about second chances for young adults whose brains weren’t fully developed when they committed their crimes.

(credit: CBS)

The bill would allow violent offenders between the ages of 18-24 – including those who’ve committed second degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault – to be eligible for parole after serving 50% of their sentence and a minimum of 15 years, if they had no disciplinary issues in prison.

Violent sex offenders and offenders sentenced to life without parole wouldn’t be eligible.

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“I’m not denying that some of these people have committed heinous crimes,” said Lee. “What I’m also saying though is who among us does not deserve a second chance? Our culture, our society is based on the idea of redemption.”

The bill is retroactive; so some inmates would be eligible for parole immediately.

(credit: CBS)

“I believe in second chances for offenders, but I believe in accountability first,” said Cannata. He visits inmates as part of a nonprofit he founded – Voices of Victims – to help them understand the consequences of their choices.

“The victims didn’t make the choice to become a victim. A victim gets a true life sentence.”

The Colorado Defense Bar supports the bill. The Colorado District Attorneys’ Council and Colorado Organization for Victims Rights oppose it.

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The bill passed its first committee – Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed.

Shaun Boyd