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CCASA Comment on the Sex Offender Management Board

From Brie Franklin, CCASA Executive Director, January 31, 2020

Chairs Senator Lee and Representative Weissman,

Members of the Joint Judiciary Committee: Senator Gonzales, Senator Cooke, Senator Gardner, Senator Rodriguez, Representative Herod, Representative Benavidez, Representative Bockenfeld, Representative Carver, Representative Gonzales-Gutierrez, Representative Roberts, Representative Soper, Representative Tipper,

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault is a statewide membership organization representing over 100 service providers and survivors of sexual violence.  In my role as the Executive Director of CCASA, I served on the Sex Offender Management Board from 2015-2019 and CCASA staff continues to regularly participate on the victim advocacy committee of the SOMB.  I am not able to attend the Joint Judiciary Committee meeting tomorrow, but I wanted to share our members’ perspective with you.  CCASA and our members believe that the Sex Offender Management Board is critical to holding offenders accountable, and keeping victims and our communities safe.

Sexual assault is the most underreported crime in this country.  There are many reasons for this, the major reason being the way our culture blames victims and excuses perpetrators for their behavior.  Research shows that of rapes committed less than 5% will result in a criminal conviction and less than 3% will result in incarceration of the offender.  The offenders who fall under the purview of the Sex Offender Management Board – those who were found guilty by a jury of their peers and convicted of a serious sex crime, and who are in treatment and being managed in the community as part of their sentence – represent a miniscule percentage of the individuals who actually commit sex crimes.

When a crime is reported, victims trust that the criminal justice system will respond appropriately to the severity of the crime and minimize future threat to victims and the community.  If we can’t hold accountable those who are identified, if we don’t effectively treat and manage those few sexual offenders who are convicted of a crime, if we can’t tell victims that we will make sure their perpetrator won’t hurt them or anyone else again, what hope is there for the many more victims out there who are scared to come forward, who see no point in going through with reporting to law enforcement?

Offenders make a choice to behave in a way that harms someone else.  Victims do not choose to be harmed.  While we consider offenders’ therapeutic and rehabilitative needs, we must not forget the impact that sexual violence has on victims and society.

Victims often experience harmful and long-lasting impacts, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, inability to sleep or concentrate, use of alcohol or drugs, eating disorders, negative physical health effects, and even suicide.  The best available research tells us that rape, excluding child sexual abuse, is the most costly of all crimes to its victims and society.  It is estimated that each rape cost approximately $151,423, with total estimated costs at $127 billion a year, including medical and mental health costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost wages, among other costs.  When you add in child sexual abuse, the cost to individuals and to society is even higher.

The crimes and offenders that fall under the purview of the Sex Offender Management Board are grave.  Victims, and the public in general, rely on you as lawmakers to make sure these offenders receive effective treatment and management so that they do not commit another sexual offense.  This is the goal of the Sex Offender Management Board and why it is vital to ensuring victim and public safety, and offender accountability.

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