May 11, 2018
The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is deeply concerned about the vague language in HB 1427 Sex Offender Management Board Interest Conflicts that refers to having a contract with certain departments. CCASA and other victim service providers receive grant funding from the Office for Victims Programs, Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety. After consulting with the Manager for the Office for Victims Programs, we believe that there is room for interpretation that a grant agreement could be considered a contract. This would effectively eliminate the victim advocate representative position on the Sex Offender Management Board, which CCASA currently fills, along with other vital positions that provide needed expertise.
A central component of research-based sex offender management is the presence of a victim representative on Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) for juveniles who have committed sexual offenses and Community Supervision Teams (CSTs) for adult sex offenders. According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, some of the benefits of victim representation on MDTs/CSTs are: the needs of the victim will be addressed; new victims identified during the course of offender supervision, as well as secondary victims, can be offered assistance; and gaps in services to victims can be identified and addressed. Having victim advocate representatives on the Sex Offender Management Board is essential to ensuring that best practices are implemented and the voices and needs of victims are heard in the development of policies and practices for treating and managing sex offenders.
Additionally, HB 1427 singles out the Sex Offender Management Board and treats it differently from any other professional board by effectively eliminating the 5 treatment provider positions on the Board. These positions provide the very expertise required for the Board to effectively do its work. In no other profession with certification or licensure (e.g., psychologists, counselors, social workers) is there no representation from active practitioners of the profession itself on a body setting standards of practice for that profession. If HB 1427 was enacted, while treatment providers may still participate on SOMB committees to provide input, without direct representation on the Board itself it is entirely up to those outside of the profession to dictate standards of practice. This is unacceptable and would not be tolerated by any other profession. There already exist checks and balances as treatment providers hold only 5 out of 24 positions on the board (20% of the total board); not enough to pass anything without approval from other “non-conflicted” members.
HB 1427 was introduced late in session and hurried through, without input from experts and stakeholders. Given that the bill does not go into effect until September 1, 2019, there is no good reason to enact this legislation in such a hasty and ill-informed fashion. By eliminating board members who are directly involved in working with and treating victims and offenders, HB 1427 removes vital expertise that is critical to holding offenders accountable and keeping victims and communities safe. For these reasons, CCASA opposes HB 1427 and asks that you veto it.