DENVER (CBS4) – A bill dealing with sex crimes has exploded in controversy at the Colorado State Capitol. District attorneys say the bill would allow some of the state’s most violent sex offenders to be released from prison without any treatment.
The bill sponsor, state Rep. Kerry Tipper, says hundreds of them aren’t getting treatment now because of a long waitlist even though a District Court ruled that sex offenders have a constitutional right to treatment in a reasonable time period. Tipper says she’s trying to address that.READ MORE: We're Only 31 Days Away From The Anniversary Of Denver's Earliest Snow On Record
The Colorado District Attorneys Council says returning sex offenders to the community before they receive treatment is not the answer. The council says the bill would allow the parole board to release people convicted of violent sex crimes as long as they’re signed up for community-based treatment and are considered a manageable risk.
It would also prevent treatment providers from limiting an offenders contact with children without a court order and would create a new risk-based sex offender registry. A nine-person board would decide who should be on the registry. Police and prosecutors would no longer get a vote.
Tipper says her only goal is to make sure offenders get the treatment they need.READ MORE: Xcel Energy Continues To Restore Natural Gas Service After Last Week's Outage In Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood
“It’s not that they shouldn’t be progressing in treatment or they’re not risk. Those are critical components that need to be addressed before anyone is released, but we can’t continue the cycle where we’re requiring people to get treatment and not giving it to them,” she said.
The bill specifically targets sex offenders who receive indeterminate sentences or sentences that include a minimum and maximum number of years. Tipper says the waitlist means some of them stay beyond the maximum sentence.
Jessica Dotter with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council says there are ways of addressing the waitlist without releasing people before they receive treatment. She says 77% of those with indeterminate sentences are child sex offenders.
“All 22 district attorney’s agree that we want offenders to get treatment to reduce recidivism and we hear the Department of Corrections’ concerns with being able to manage the need for treatment and resources available, but this bill goes so far outside of that,” Dotter said.MORE NEWS: Jennifer Watson Sentenced To Community Service After Hitting Protester With SUV
The District Attorneys Council and bill sponsor met for 2 hours Monday afternoon but were unable to reach a compromise. The bill will get its first committee hearing Tuesday.