Bradford reworking bill to target molesters

State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said she plans to work through the weekend to fix her bill aimed at toughening sentences for child molesters so that the bill would be more acceptable to Democrats.

Bradford’s proposal, House Bill 1144, landed itself in legislative limbo when the House Judiciary Committee declined Thursday to either pass it along in the legislative process or kill it.

The bill would require that sex offenders who target children 14 or younger face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“The DAs want the ability to have discretion on a case-by-case basis in the courtroom,” Bradford said.

During a hearing Thursday,  Ted Tow, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, said a series of public prosecutors said they opposed to Bradford’s bill, including Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger.

Hautzinger could not be reached for comment Friday.

The state’s top public defender, Douglas Wilson, told lawmakers Thursday that Bradford’s bill effectively takes treatment and therapy options off the table.

Bradford said she plans to work over the weekend to try and find a way to amend her bill and make it more agreeable to prosecutors, but she is not sure how much success she will have.

“It’s going to be very difficult to find the very technical phraseology that will achieve ultimately what I want to achieve,” she said.

Bradford’s bill — even if she addresses prosecutors’ concerns — also will have to contend with a steep price tag that could dampen lawmakers’ desires to toughen the state’s sentencing laws.

According to the Colorado Legislative Council, Bradford’s bill will cost the state nearly $139.5 million over the next five years.

Bradford has until Thursday to convince the House Judiciary Committee to pass it along to the House Appropriations Committee, or it dies in the process.

By MIKE SACCONE


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