Corrections officials reamed over failure to track sex offenders
DENVER ” Lawmakers admonished state prison officials on Wednesday for failing to classify and track convicted sex offenders and said they meant business when they gave them the responsibility six years ago.
A Department of Corrections spokeswoman blamed the courts, saying they had not properly flagged sex offenders’ records so prison officials could determined if the inmates should be labeled sexually violent predators.
“My understanding was that the intent was to make the Department of Corrections the stopgap for people who fell through the cracks,” Patti Micciche told a panel convened by Democrats to review reports that the two agencies failed to do their jobs.
Micciche said prison officials routinely checked forms court forms to determine if further scrutiny was needed, and the forms were not always accurate.
Sen. Dan Grossman, D-Denver, said lawmakers made it clear both agencies would be held responsible and there was to be no reliance on forms.
“We expect that the laws we pass will be followed,” Grossman told Micciche.
Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, said corrections officials should not have relied on court officials to do their jobs for them.
“I don’t ever want to hear corrections say that again, that they were depending on judicial,” said Anderson, who was named this week to temporarily fill a Senate vacancy.
The legislative panel met to review possible legislation to fix the problem. Last week, Gov. Bill Owens convened a task force to review the files of hundreds of imprisoned sexual offenders after the Department of Corrections acknowledged it failed to warn communities whether previously released offenders were a threat to the public.
A 1999 state law requires the Department of Corrections to evaluate potential sexual predators in prison before they are released. The Denver Post reported last month that only two men had been identified as predators, even though more than 1,300 met the initial criteria.
Prison officials acknowledged they had not been reviewing the inmates’ cases.
Court and prison officials said they are reviewing files of 944 convicted sex offenders now in custody to see if they should be labeled predators.
Bob Grant, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, said most of them will not meet the requirements. Under the law, sexually violent predators must have victimized a stranger or someone the offender has groomed. He said most sex offenders know their victims.
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