Kudos to Gov. Jared Polis for nixing the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board’s vote last month to substitute silly, “person first” wokeism for sound policy.
Readers might recall that the obscure board, which writes the rules for rehabilitating and monitoring convicted sex offenders, made news a few weeks ago with its 10-6 vote to bar — ironically — the term “sex offender” from board use.
Board members decided instead to call sex offenders, “adults who commit sexual offenses.” Precious, right? To say nothing of absurd, pointless and insulting to the many Coloradans who have been victims of sexual assault.
Last week, the board voted again — to reverse its decision and table the new policy — after a timely trip to the woodshed. The governor appears to have felt putting the person first when it comes to convicted sex offenders could be interpreted as putting the victims last.
“We must be wary not to normalize violent acts of sexual aggression or even give the appearance of normalizing such unacceptable behavior,” Polis wrote to board Director Kimberly Kline the day before the vote.
“I hope that the board will reevaluate its previous decision to allow for additional discussions with the wider community, including carefully examining potential trauma to victims. …”
Which, of course, is diplomatic gubernatorial parlance for, “Are you guys nuts?”
Just plain bad policy aside, the board’s vote also was tone deaf amid public alarm over Colorado’s skyrocketing crime rate. Violent crime in our state soared 35% from 2011 to last year — it rose only 3% nationwide — and among the grim stats was a 9% jump in rape.
It can’t have escaped Polis’ attention that his fellow Colorado Democrats have been dogged lately by a soft-on-crime reputation. So the timing of the board’s ill-advised decision last month couldn’t be worse.
Actually, it could be worse — and in fact is. As reported in The Gazette on Thursday, courtesy of Denver’s 9News, a man who had been sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2014 for sexual assaults — and served only a fraction of that time — has been accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in Aurora this month. Just 18 months after his prison release.
Kenneth Dean Lee was arrested Dec. 10 and faces charges of sexual assault on a child and first-degree burglary. Aurora police officers were told a man, later identified as Lee, entered a residence around noon, identified himself as an immigration official, and assaulted the victim.
A quick search for “sex offender” in The Gazette’s archives turns up a trove of tragic and unnerving headlines just from recent months. Here’s a sampling:
“Sex offender gets 48 years for kidnapping, sexually assaulting Douglas County woman”
“Repeat child sex offender sentenced to 126 years in prison”
“Aurora man who sexually assaulted a teenage boy is sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in prison”
They don’t need to be coddled with kinder, gentler labels. They urgently need help — and they should be getting it behind bars, preferably while serving out their full sentences.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board could use a little therapy, too. Members who voted for the change should be required to repeat the words, “sex offender” aloud 100 times. Acknowledging who they truly are is the first step toward helping them.