Yesterday on KHOW’s Peter Boyles show, Boyles guest Greig Veeder, executive director of a group called No Known Cure, said that a new House bill, 1364, allows sex offenders to choose their own treatment programs. Denver weekly Westword appears to have printed a similar statement. Boyles and Veeder suggested the bill was lax and would allow sex offenders to pick ineffective programs. They likened it to allowing alcoholics to choose recovery programs that allow them to drink. Veeder said the bill would, in effect, make Colorado an attractive place for sex offenders to live.
The bill stipulates, however, that all programs will be designed by the Department of Corrections and the Colorado Sex Offender Board and shaped by assessment tests conducted by providers. Sex offenders are allowed only to choose which “provider” to go to not the kind of treatment they will receive. It’s more like choosing a doctor than it is choosing treatment. Boyles and Veeder failed to mention that Veeder, according to Westword, has run a sex offender program in the past and has actively lobbied the state to develop a 300 person institutionalized facility for sex offenders.
BOYLES: [This bill] allows sex offenders to choose the program that they want to go into. The right to select which treatment program. That is like saying to a practicing alcoholic, “You know, you want to go into a program that says you can go ahead and drink, go ahead.”
BOYLES: I mean this is insanity. [Democratic Denver Rep. Joyce] Foster and the rest of these people should just hang their heads.
VEEDER: No, but I would suggest you invite other sex offenders to move to Colorado.
Boyles later addressed the same issue with a caller.
CALLER: Question about the sex offender thing. Is there any more wording in there about what particular treatment programs they would be able to pick from or just they go out and find their own or something, or what?
BOYLES: It says, gives the sex offender the right to select at least from three different treatment programs they can attend. Greig said to me a sex offender would now choose a program that holds him or her least accountable. I know I would do it. If you were Chester the Molester and you were given the option? Now first of all there is no known cure. Chester is going to be a molester all of his life. Or her life. so if you pressure a treatment program to be easier on an adult sex offender and they are going to get money, I am going to go create a program– I say it is like, “I am going to go run an alcohol program that says it is OK for you to drink. And you are going to come to me.”
According to the bill, the programs will all be developed by the Department of Corrections and the Sex Offender Management Board, not the providers. Providers who do not comply to guidelines laid out by the board will lose their status as providers.
Christopher Lobanov-Rostovsky, from the Colorado Department of Safety and program manager for the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) told the Colorado Independent that all plans must follow requirements developed by the SOMB.
“All treatment delivered in the state must comply with the standards. The standards are promulgated by the Sex Offender Management Board. All providers have to follow the standards. All providers have to be listed and approved by the board,” Lobanov-Rostovsky said.
“So every [facility] in this state where a defender is going to go has the approval by the board to be able to provide the service. The standards lay out the treatment for the things that you have to do, the things you can’t do. An individual provider can obviously create their own treatment program based on their own style but only so long as that complies. So there is some individual variation but they are consistent in that all providers have to follow standards listed.”
Lobanov-Rostovsky explain that some variation in treatment allows probation officers to recommend patients with special needs to specific providers.
“I think some providers maybe work better with certain populations. So somebody has mental health issues and is a sex offender. There might be a provider who has more experience around that issue and the probation or parole might refer them to that provider. But again, all providers are required to use similar treatment and prevention styles so that we can have relative consistency.”
The new rules also appear to standardize a system that currently differs from district to district in the state.
Jon Sarche, public information coordinator for the Colorado Judicial Branch, said there is “no requirement that [offenders] be given the choice of provider or not be given the choice of provider. This all varies by district or by case… probation officers around Colorado can choose on their own whether to give choices to offenders” on where they can go for treatment.
In any case, he said, existing law gives the same authority to a probation officer to assign a sex offender to particular treatment providers.
This blog was updated with the Lobanov-Rostovsky and Sarche quotes.