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What follows are the primary “guiding principles” of the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board. Unlike other kinds of cases – burglary, theft, forgery, domestic violence – etc. law enforcement looks at Sex Offender cases very differently. It is complex, confusing and – quite frankly – frightening.
My clients often are confused about why the District Attorney or the Judge care little or not at all about my clients’ family, their employment opportunities, their very ability to survive. The reason for this website is for the potential and existing client to peer into the “thinking” behind Colorado’s Sex Crimes Laws – the Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act.
In the following pages – I reprint the relevant Guiding Principles and my translation of those principles.
Colorado Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment, Assessment, Evaluation, Treatment and Behavioral Monitoring of Adult Sex Offenders: Guiding Principles
1. Sexual offending is a behavioral disorder which cannot be “cured.”
Sexual offenses are defined by law and may or may not be associated with or accompanied by the characteristics of sexual deviance which are described as paraphilias. Some sex offenders also have co-existing conditions such as mental disorders, organic disorders, or substance abuse problems.
Many offenders can learn through treatment to manage their sexual offending behaviors and decrease their risk of re-offense. Such behavioral management should not, however, be considered a “cure,” and successful treatment cannot permanently eliminate the risk that sex offenders may repeat their offenses.
Translation: These people follow a “no cure” model. That means that a sex offender is not capable of being rehabilitated – those compelling a lifetime sentence of supervision.
2. Sex offenders are dangerous.
When a sexual assault occurs there is always a victim. Both the literature and clinical experience suggest that sexual assault can have devastating effects on the lives of victims and their families.
There are many forms of sexual offending. Offenders may have more than one pattern of sexual offending behavior and often have multiple victims. The propensity for such behavior is often present long before it is detected. It is the nature of the disorder that sex offenders’ behaviors are inherently covert, deceptive, and secretive. Untreated sex offenders also commonly exhibit varying degrees of denial about the facts, severity and/or frequency of their offenses.
Prediction of the risk of re-offense for sex offenders is in the early stages of development. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the likelihood of re-offense or future victim selection. Some offenders may be too dangerous to be placed in the community and other offenders may pose enough risk to the community to require lifetime monitoring to minimize the risk.
Translation: This means that offenders are isolated from their family – friends and sometimes co-workers. If the government’s perception of risk is high enough – the sex offender is isolated for life in prison.
3. Community safety is paramount.
The highest priority of these Standards and Guidelines is community safety.
Translation: This is the key – foundational to every rule – standard and law in this area – is that the defendant has few rights and protections after conviction – the safety of the community and the victim – above everything else – including – at times – reason and common sense – takes precedence.
4. Assessment and evaluation of sex offenders is an ongoing process.
Progress in treatment and level of risk are not constant over time. The effective assessment and evaluation of sexual offenders is best seen as a process. In Colorado, criminal sexual offenders are first assessed and referred for a sex offense-specific evaluation during the pre-sentence investigation conducted by the Probation Department. Assessment of sex offenders’ risk and amenability to treatment should not, however, end at this point. Subsequent assessments must occur at both the entry and exit points of all sentencing options, i.e. probation, parole, community corrections and prison. In addition, assessment and evaluation should be an ongoing practice in any program providing treatment for sex offenders.
In the management and treatment of sex offenders there will be measurable degrees ofprogress or lack of progress. Because of the cyclical nature of offense patterns and fluctuating life stresses, sex offenders’ levels of risk are constantly in flux. Success in the management and treatment of sex offenders cannot be assumed to be permanent. For these reasons, monitoring of risk must be a continuing process as long as sex offenders are under criminal justice supervision. Moreover, the end of the period of court supervision should not necessarily be seen as the end of dangerousness.
Translation: The intensive nature of the treatment modalities in this area mean that it never ends for the defendant. It is ongoing for years and years – it is difficult it not impossible to comply with the strict – even oppressive at times – requirements of Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Probation (SOISP). … as the guideline notes ” levels of risk are constantly in flux.” Therefore probation violations leading to life sentences are very common if not defended properly.
5. Assignment to community supervision is a privilege, and sex offenders must be completely accountable for their behaviors.
Sex offenders on community supervision must agree to intensive and sometimes intrusive accountability measures which enable them to remain in the community rather than in prison. Offenders carry the responsibility to learn and demonstrate the importance of accountability, and to earn the right to remain under community supervision.
Translation: If you are permitted to remain in the community – you are never left alone – it is a constant extremely high level of scrutiny – every action – every move is under the microscope of officials and therapists who are constantly vigilant searching out for weakness and mistakes on the part of the sex offender.
6. Sex offenders must waive confidentiality for evaluation, treatment, supervision and case management purposes.
All members of the team managing and treating each offender must have access to the same relevant information. Sex offenses are committed in secret, and all forms of secrecy potentially undermine the rehabilitation of sex offenders and threaten public safety.
Translation: The defendant is repeatedly polygraphed on every aspect of their lives – no privacy rights exist for the sex offender – every aspect of their lives is on display for others. The intrusive nature of the constant surveillance makes a “normal” life almost impossible.
7. Victims have a right to safety and self-determination.
Victims have the right to determine the extent to which they will be informed of an offender’s status in the criminal justice system and the extent to which they will provide input through appropriate channels to the offender management and treatment process. In the case of adolescent or child victims, custodial adults and/or guardians ad litem act on behalf of the child to exercise this right, in the best interest of the victim.
Translation: The victim is always 100% truthful – the defendant – 100% untruthful. There is no “other side” – there is only the victim’s version of the facts.. which in the opinion of other professionals in the criminal justice system – know is never the case. There are always two sides – and the true facts are never black and white – but are a measure of gray.
Conclusion: This webpage is intended only to give the reader a glimpse into the methodology and thought underlying the Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Treatment Act.