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Still Not Done with the SVP

(Sexually Violent Predator Designation)

8-23-17

 

This is my 71st birthday edition of the article for the front page of the CSOR Website.  It has been a while since I placed a new article there.  I am praying for many more years during which to support and advocate for those who have committed a sexual offense, and continue to suffer the damages from that bad choice for the rest of their lives.

The Colorado Sexually Violent Predator “Assessment Tool” mandated by the Colorado Legislature after the passage of the Adam Walsh Act in 1998, has now been redone several times, and is about to undergo release as a newly designed “assessment tool.”  The SOMB Members sitting around the table in 1998 were exposed by a prominent member of that group as admitting that the instrument they created identified nothing regarding whether someone was indeed, appropriate to be designated a Sexually Violent Predator.

Personally, I never call anyone a “Sexually Violent Predator”, but rather say that they were designated a “Sexually Violent Predator.”  I have no faith in the instruments that have been created so far.  I believe that we are now on the 4th instrument since 1998, and because the State of Colorado has failed to take the hint from the Sex Offender Management Board that this designation is no longer required via Adam WALSH, we will soon be stuck with one more attempt to satisfy something that is in Colorado Statute, and can’t be removed until our legislators decide to remove it.

In 2014, the Outside Evaluators hired by the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado Legislature said that the instrument was still not properly identifying people who were most at risk to commit multiple sexual offenses.  Furthermore the Sexually Violent Predator words are misused and abused by law enforcement, some Colorado Department of Correction’s staff, media people, and the general public.  The terms Sexually Violent Predator, Violent Sexual Predator etc. are thrown around by the media as if they really identified “something” or better yet, someone, who had been given that label.  No-one knows what it means – to me, the murder and sexual assault of Jessica Ridgway is an example of what I might picture as a sexually violent predator offense, and the perpetrator of that crime wasn’t even on the sexual offense registry!

The Division of Criminal Justice Employee who created most, if not all, of these instruments over the years, is creating the present one as well.  Why should I have faith in this instrument, when the others didn’t cut the mustard?  It behooves us as advocates to spend some time talking with legislators regarding getting the requirement for this designation out of statute as soon as possible!

My own son was wrongly designated a Sexually Violent Predator years ago, along with 100 others who also never scored as an SVP.  A handshake deal between Alan Stanley of the Parole Board and Attorney General Alan Suthers allowed Parole Board members who did not agree with the assessment’s results were told they could label those people SVP whether they scored as one or not (we were told this in a public meeting by a member of the Parole Board).  When Dave Michaud came on as head of the Parole Board, this massive error was corrected for my son and at least some of the others affected.

My good friend, J.S. has a developmentally disabled son who was wrongly labeled an SVP.  At every SOMB Meeting, she introduces herself as “the mother of a developmentally disable son who was falsely labeled an SVP.”  While people may get tired of hearing it, she makes a strong and unashamed point each time she says it!  I am so proud of her for her resilience around this defense of her son.

Meanwhile, we go to this committee meeting, filling the gap with still another potentially faulty instrument, waiting for the legislature to take on the job of removing this now unnecessary and destructive designation from statute.  Sadly, there is no remedy for those already so designated, although according to the Director of Sexual Litigation of the Public Defender’s Office, Laurie Kepros, there is now a 35(c) case in the courts that shows promise in terms of challenging this horrendous designation.

 

Susan Walker, M.A.
Director, CSOR
P.O. Box 27051
Denver, Co. 80227
www.csor-home.org
Affiliate/Nat’l. RSOL

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