In 1998, Colorado adopted what’s known as the lifetime supervision sentence for individuals found guilty of
sex crimes. The law dictates that all individuals classified as
sexual offenders must receive therapy aimed to treat and reform sex offenders. A recent audit of the program, however, proves it has serious defects that are costing Colorado tax payers upwards of $30 million each year.

Under the provisions of the lifetime supervision law, individuals classified as sex offenders are subject to the same treatment program. Critics of the law contend treatment is only effective if tailored to a specific individual and his or her crime. For example, a 20-year-old man charged with statutory rape for having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl should not be treated the same as a 40-year-old man convicted of molesting an 8-year-old boy.

In addition to problems related to how mandatory therapy programs for sex offenders are set up, there are also problems with the frequency of such programs as well as the qualifications of individual therapists. Each year, approximately 675 of the nearly 4,000 sex offenders behind bars are accepted to participate in therapy programs. For those inmates unable to participate, many who would be eligible for parole remain behind bars until they complete therapy.

It costs roughly $31,000 per year to house an inmate in a Colorado prison. Due to the inefficiencies of the lifetime supervision program, Colorado taxpayers are forced to foot more than $30 million each year to incarcerate sex offenders who could more readily benefit from treatment outside a prison’s walls.

The findings of the audit of the lifetime supervision program have caused outrage among many Colorado lawmakers who are calling for reform to the law’s provisions. Additionally, many argue a need for more distinction between sex offenders and the type and level of treatment they receive.

Source: The Denver Post, ”
Audit rips Colorado’s lifetime-supervision sentence for sex offenders,” David Olinger, April 25, 2013