DENVER (CBS4) – A bill to revamp how sex offenders are managed in Colorado was pulled after prosecutors accused the bill’s sponsors of putting public safety at risk.
The bill addresses everything from the conditions for release from prison to the sex offender registry. The Colorado District Attorneys’ Council says 70% of people convicted of sex offenses in Colorado don’t even go to prison. Of those who do, it says, the vast majority of them are convicted of sexually assaulting children.READ MORE: Shooting At Aurora Apartment Complex Injures Mom And Child Inside Unit
Initially, the bill would have allowed them to be released without treatment, but it was amended after prosecutors sounded the alarm.
“To fundamentally talk about changing how we manage, monitor, identify evaluate, and treat sex offenders in the community should not be done without public transparency,” Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Amanda Gall told the House Judiciary Committee.
She accused the bill sponsors of recklessly endangering public safety, “The implications for community safety issues is huge.”READ MORE: Parade, Concerts & More: Juneteenth Celebrations Underway In Denver
Gall and Colorado’s 22 elected district attorneys are opposing the bill which would change the makeup of the board that sets the criteria for which sex offenders get paroled. The changes come after what bill sponsor state Rep. Adrienne Benavidez calls a scathing audit of the board, “It really showed some problems in how it operated.”
The audit found board members personally benefiting from policy decisions and setting standards without any supporting evidence. The new board consists primarily of treatment providers who Gall says have no expertise in supervision, management, and monitoring of sex offenders, “This is a public safety board, not dental medical board.”
She’s also concerned about a provision in the bill allowing sex offenders to more easily switch providers, saying it will allow those failing treatment to game the system.MORE NEWS: Lightning Sparks Over 20 New Wildfires In Extreme Southwest Colorado On Friday
The board will not only determine who gets released, but who has to register based on a new risk assessment. Supporters argue it will help ensure fairness, saying the current system lumps all sex offenders together and individualized treatment works better.