DENVER – Colorado lawmakers have advanced a proposal to place fewer convicted juveniles on the state sex offender registry and partially seal the list from the public, officials said.
The draft was endorsed Thursday by an interim committee of lawmakers tasked with considering changes to how the state justice system treats people with mental illness, The Denver Post reported .
The proposed changes are informed by research showing that harshly penalizing juvenile sex offenders often does nothing to improve public safety or rehabilitate the offenders, lawmakers said. Currently, juvenile sex offenders could be required to stay on the registry their whole lives, limiting job and housing options, among other consequences.
“Why are we stigmatizing children and preventing them from turning their lives around, and potentially ruining any productive and successful future they may have?” said state Sen. Robert Rodriguez, a Denver Democrat who is chairman of the committee. “We need to provide opportunities for change in behavior and a path to move forward.”
Democratic state Rep. Adrienne Benavidez of Commerce City agreed to champion the bill in the House next session beginning in January, officials said. Rodriguez said he would do the same in the Senate.
The proposal would also partially seal the registry, meaning the public would no longer have access to the complete database, but could still request information about people, officials said. An exception would be made for some public entities like schools and law enforcement.
There were more than 2,000 people on the sex offender registry list in Colorado as of 2017 who were required to register as a result of an offense they committed as minors, according to data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The entire registry, including people convicted as adults, has nearly 20,000 people on it.