Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Sex offender issue goes to the Supreme Court

The controversy continues to grow over last-minute changes in HB 1364. The measure extends the life of the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board for five years, but removes the words "no known cure" -- as originally presented, the measure included those words and charged the board to study whether they should be retained -- and allows convicted sex offenders to choose from three treatment programs

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has weighed in on the tricky issue of sex offenders, deciding that a "sexually dangerous" -- i.e., incurable -- inmate can be locked up indefinitely. In doing so, it affirmed the government's argument that Elena Kagan had made in January.

There are few topics as sticky -- or squirm-inducing -- as sex offenders. Over the years, we've written about people who've been falsely accused, and become trapped in the system; we've written about people who are clearly guilty of preying on some of society's most vulnerable members, and have skated past the system. And we've written about controversial treatments, including Teaching Humane Existence, the program that is now at the center of the storm.

And while the topic remains incredibly complex, two things are clear.

The targets of true sex offenders must be protected -- which the Supreme Court did with yesterday's decision in determining that the worst of the worst sex offenders could be kept past their sentences in order to maintain 'the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others."

And it is also a topic that needs ongoing discussion -- in public, not behind closed doors.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun