A loophole in state law is allowing convicted sex offenders, the bulk of them in Denver, to stay off the radar of law enforcement and the public.
- We are so sick and tired of hearing the "loophole" to justify further punishing ex-offenders.
State lawmakers should step in and address the issue for the safety of Coloradans.
As The Denver Post's David Olinger reported last week, a provision in state law says police no longer have to verify the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders who say they are homeless. This change in law, enacted in 2012, was meant to cut down on the number of sex offenders saying they were homeless by requiring them to "self-verify" their locations with police more often.
For example, sex offenders who had been required to check in with police annually now had to do so quarterly, and those required to self-verify quarterly now had to do it monthly.
But we suspect the unintended result of this law is that some sex offenders who aren't really homeless may have been encouraged to register as homeless to avoid scrutiny.
Consider the fact that the number of sex offenders in Denver who say they are homeless has now doubled in two years from 85 to 162. That just sounds suspicious.
- Maybe, but did you also check to see if it's due to the draconian residency restrictions that is forcing people into homelessness since they cannot find any place else to live?
State officials say they can't just require homeless sex offenders who aren't under post-conviction supervision, as the highest-level sexual predators are, to wear electronic monitoring devices. Court cases have said sex offenders who are simply required to register — and not wear monitoring devices — can't be compelled later to undergo electronic monitoring after their release.
However, we would argue that when sex offenders don't bother to check in with police and go missing, as some do, they have committed a new offense that should spur the use of electronic monitoring.
- If they don't register then they should be arrested, you don't need another useless law for that!
Another problem is that while the law requires police agencies across the state to report the numbers of homeless sex offenders in their area every six months, state officials say the reports don't exist. That's because the reporting requirements are "subject to available resources."
What is the point of having the reporting requirement if it's being roundly ignored?
We recognize that there are sex offenders who are legitimately homeless, and that there may be a need for special housing programs to address homeless sex offenders.
At the same time, the whole reason for registering sex offenders is to let the public know when one is living nearby and for the police to be able to keep tabs on them.
And the present law is not ensuring that.
- Nor will it ever!