Sex offender debate turns into public pissing match

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It's time to expand the discussion of the bill that would continue this state's Sex Offender Management Board beyond state senator Joyce Foster -- who certainly should have revealed that the prime motivator behind her amendment of the measure was her own brother-in-law, a convicted sex offender -- and Greig Veeder's Treating Humane Existence, the controversial therapy program that Joyce Foster's brother-in-law didn't like.

if Colorado's list of registered sex offenders truly includes people who have done nothing more than urinate in public, as one caller told me, then this state needs to focus on making sure those public pee-ers are never put on a list in the first place -- not give them their choice of therapy programs after they are.

In the meantime, it's time to end the public pissing match.

The conversation needs to move beyond Foster and Veeder, because Veeder is not the only person alarmed by the last-second switch in the bill.

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault is also concerned, and has asked Governor Bill Ritter to seriously consider HB 1364. "We all shake our heads at the national headlines about sex offenders who are supposedly being monitored, yet continue to commit horrific crimes," says Erin Jemison, interim executive director of CCASA, which was at the forefront of the fight when it was founded in 1984. " We lament the system that let those victims down and demand laws to keep us safe from predators, yet our legislators passed a bill that weakens the very law in Colorado that seeks to prevent these tragedies."

Last month, CCASA and victim advocates across the state spoke out at both legislative hearings regarding HB 1364 in order to highlight the victim impact of removing "no known cure" language from the bill. But there was no public hearing on Foster's amendment, which "blindsided" the victim community and general public, she adds.(Find more info on CCASA here.)

Ritter, a former DA, has long been concerned with victims' rights. He should reemphasize that concern by vetoing this bill and moving the conversation along.

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