Public Safety & Justice

Audit: Colorado Overtreating Sex Offenders at the Taxpayers' Expense

January 28, 2014

Colorado is overtreating many low-risk sex offenders in the mistaken belief that they cannot be cured, an independent consultant has found.

As a result, the state's Sex Offender Management Board is wasting significant amounts of public money on supervision in the community, according to a report from Central Coast Clinical and Forensic Psychology Services.

The report, released earlier this month, also concluded that Colorado's system for classifying some offenders as sexually violent predators is hopelessly flawed and in urgent need of replacement. That means Colorado could be classifying the wrong people as sexually violent predators.

The findings were met with approval from advocates of reform for sex-offender treatment but with skepticism from a victims' group.

The report's recommendations, if adopted, could dramatically change the supervision of sex offenders, many of whom are now monitored for life.

There were 1,412 sex offenders under intensive supervision on probation in the state as of June 30, and 767 of those were under lifetime supervision, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The consultant's analysis of the board, an arm of the state Department of Public Safety, commended Colorado for developing a model treatment program in the 1990s and for the thought and dedication put into its guidelines for managing sex offenders.

At the same time, it reported that Colorado has adhered stubbornly to the idea that sex offenders cannot be cured and must be managed for life despite abundant research to the contrary.

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