A bill introduced in the first week of the legislation would keep youth offenders off the public registry.
The bill has been a few years in the making. It has roots in a white paper that outlines research on consequences of registration for youth offenders and the effectiveness of sex offense registration for public safety, put together by a group of mostly public employees from a variety of agencies. But not everyone agrees registries don’t improve public safety.
The upcoming bill is backed by Reps. Adrienne Benavidez and Jonathan Singer. Some provisions in a draft of the bill include expanding judicial discretion to exempt an offender from registration at the recommendation of a Sex Offender Management Board evaluator, making sure underage of- fenders are not on the list posted on the internet and allowing some in- stances when the Colorado Bureau of Investigation can tell someone re- questing information about an underage person whether that person is on the registry.
Benavidez said the upcoming bill is a new iteration of a legislative attempt in 2018 that didn’t make it to introduction. She said she spent time learning about how Colorado’s processes and policies work.
“I know, just like everybody else, that our sex offender registry is public, but I really didn’t know how it worked,” she said. “And I also knew that juvenile cases are generally not public, so I was a little surprised to learn that … juveniles were included on it.”
Under current Colorado law, registration for underage offenders is for life by default, with some leeway to seek relief from registration requirements. State law also requires youth offenders to register in Colorado if they were convicted of a sex offense in a different state that meets Colorado’s registration requirements, regardless of whether they had to register in the other state.