Colorado Sex Offender Sentences Still Stringent Despite Failure of Jessica’s Law

Late February the Denver Post ran the article Political accusations fly after Colorado’s Jessica’s Law dies dissecting the hoopla that has been stirred up around Colorado’s denial of Jessica’s Law. Read the full article here.

House Bill 1149, or Jessica’s Law, would require a 25 year minimum sentence on an offender who commits sexual assault against a child. This bill was quashed on February 13 on a party-line vote. Since then, local papers, national syndicate Fox News, and anonymous commentators on the internet have had a lot to say about areas of which they clearly do not understand. House Speaker Mark Ferrandino nailed it on the head when describing the recent introduction of the bill as This is all about politics and not good policy.

It is all about politics. That is why so many far leaning news anchors and anonymous internet commentators have accused Colorado of being soft on sex offenders. If this was about good policy then maybe someone would have spoken in favor of the bill when it was in front of Colorado law makers. Instead, we see the District Attorneys’ Council, Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Colorado Office of the Public Defender all agree that this bill was unnecessary. It’s not often you see these groups all agreeing on something, let alone agreeing on sentencing of sex offenders. These three groups understand that Colorado already has incredibly complicated and stringent sex offender sentencing laws that go beyond what Jessica’s Law mandates.

Sex offenders sentenced under the Lifetime Supervision Act would have the option to 1) enter sex offender treatment while in DOC and be released on lifetime parole after completion or 2) decline sex offender treatment and remain in prison for the rest of their life. Sadly, the current program is not working as legislatively intended. Due to many factors (such as being under-funded and under-staffed), many inmates are never given the opportunity to begin or finish treatment and therefore never become parole eligible. Our law firm is one of three that have brought a class action lawsuit to enforce the law as enacted and provide offenders in prison an opportunity to be paroled. In the meantime, we will continue to represent citizens charged with sex offenses in the Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Adams, and Boulder counties and throughout Colorado. 303-440-4444.

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