There is a major movement in Denver and across Colorado for reform related to sex offender treatment and sentencing: specifically indeterminate sentencing and sex offender treatment while in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Currently, convictions for certain sex offenses require an indeterminate sentence – meaning the judge sets only a minimum time and the maximum is set by the Parole Board – possibly for life. Along with that, those sentenced to an indeterminate sentence in DOC for a sex offense, must complete sex offender treatment before the parole board will even consider allowing their release. The problem is that the Colorado prison system is over loaded and there are not enough treatment providers to treat everyone in a timely manner. This is especially a problem for those on an indeterminate sentence because they will get bumped for treatment if someone with a determinate, or shorter sentence, comes into the correctional facility.
Adams and Jefferson County Determinate Sentencing Discretion for Indeterminate Sex Offenses
Senate Bill 17-087 addressed the issue with indeterminate sentencing, proposing that a judge should have the discretion to sentence someone convicted of a sexual offense to an indeterminate or determinate sentence. In sex crime cases, evaluations are ordered to determine a person’s risk level in regard to community safety. However, a finding of low risk for re-offense is not taken into consideration because of mandatory indeterminate sentencing. Jefferson and Adams County DAs are having to allow defendants to plead to unrelated offenses in order to get determinate sentences – which is not the point of criminal justice. While the bill did not pass its initial introduction to the Senate, the fact that this bill was considered is a step in the right direction.
Arapahoe County Sex Offender Treatment in Prison: Douglas County Low Risk Sex Offenders Need Community Based Treatment
Another important bill, SB17-141, offers the option for the parole board to allow low-risk sex offenders incarcerated in DOC to complete treatment in a community based setting. Currently, anyone on an indeterminate sentence, regardless of risk level, is being denied parole if they have not completed sex offender treatment. The system is overwhelmed and cannot properly provide treatment to everyone in a timely manner, so many are stuck. This bill also lost after its introduction, but it gives hope for change in the future.