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New Colorado Sex Offender Bill Headed for the State Senate

House Bill 10-1364, a controversial piece of legislature extending Colorado's Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB), is up for a final review by the state Senate after receiving some last minute changes.

The main thrust of the bill, to extend the SOMB for another five years, was met with little resistance. Rather, contention surrounding the original bill centered on a bit of modified language pertaining to the Sex Offender Management Board's directive, removing language supporting the theory that there is "no known cure" for sex offenders.

This was an important omission because, in Colorado, those convicted of sex offenses are offered treatment based on the assumption that there is no known cure for their condition. To remove this from the board's directive could have put much-needed treatment programs in jeopardy.

In the face of heavy criticism, Democratic House members agreed to a compromise - language directing the SOMB to acknowledge the existence of "some adult sex offenders" who fit into a group for whom there is no known cure.

The last minute addition in question would allow convicted sex offenders to choose between a number of treatment options. The amendment, added in a closed Senate session, drew criticism from at least one community group, though members argued against the amendment in a broad sense - rather than citing the plan's specific points.

The Sex Offenders Management Board is expected to return in 12 months with an overview of current treatment and monitoring practices, eventually developing a set of standard practices for both going forward.

Of special note is the decision by lawmakers to draw a distinction between adult sex offenders and juvenile sex offenders, such as those charged with sex offenses like cell phone "sexting". This could be the first step towards more reasonable laws pertaining to younger offenders, especially those guilty of little more than bad judgment.

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