Jessica's Law Fails in Colo., Stricter Laws Already in Place
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. An attempt to pass Jessica's Law in Colorado has failed for the fourth time. The law is named after 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, a Florida girl who was rapped and killed in 2005 by a previously convicted sex offender. The law is designed to protect potential victims and reduce a sexual offender's ability to re-offend.
Colorado and a handful of states have been making national headlines for not having a version of the law. Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and New York are other states with no Jessica's Law in the books. However, some Colorado officials say our state already has stringent laws in place regarding sex offenders.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, said, "This keeps on coming up every year because Jessica's Law has become sort-of shorthand for let's be tough on sex offenders."
Hautzinger says some things getting lost in translation, Colorado adopted indeterminate sentencing for sex offenders in the late 1990's.
"Someone who's sent to prison for a rape or a sex assault on a child is not going to be released unless the parole department deems them to be cured or safe for release," he said.
Erin Jemison, executive director for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA), said, "No such thing as a flat number for sex offenders in Colorado, and the whole point of that is to recognize that these offenders have a higher propensity to re-offend."
Hautzinger says Colorado laws are among the toughest nationwide, "I think we are as vigorous in protecting children and prosecuting people who victimize children as any state in the nation."
Despite Colorado laws, some still want to see Jessica's Law passed. Colorado State Representative Ray Scott tweeted to followers, "Let me be very clear. Republicans on State and Military Affairs voted YES on Jessica's law and I was one of them."
CCASA took a neutral stance on the matter, "I'm confident in the sentencing structure we have in place, I'm not saying that it gets implemented well or correctly every time, but that's a whole other issue. i think if you had Jessica's Law there would still be implementation issues," said Jemison.
"No one is opposed to Jessica's Laws, it just doesn't make sense in the context of our laws and our state," said Hautzinger.
Despite that belief, Jessica’s Law will most likely be voted on again in Colorado down the line.