Despite a recent court ruling upholding the constitutionality of placing juveniles on the state's sex offender registry under certain circumstances, a bill is expected to be introduced when the Colorado Legislature convenes next month that could change all that.
Under the bill, juveniles convicted of two or more sexual crimes no longer would be required to be placed on the registry. That could only happen if they subsequently are convicted of a sexually related crime after they become adults.
That measure, among three others related to juvenile sex offenders, was the product of the Legislature's Treatment of Persons with Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System Committee, which met over the summer to review the issue of juvenile sentencing.
But the four bills that panel wanted to introduce into the 2019 session were rejected by the Legislative Council Committee, which is made up of all senior members of the Colorado House and Senate.
Regardless, the panel's chairman, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, says he's working to have a bill introduced into the Legislature in February or March to address those rejected bills.
"There are some things that we can do to actually help streamline some things," Singer said. "Most of the juveniles on the sexual offender registry don't re-offend, but there's a huge stigma attached to them that leads to all kinds of downstream issues related to mental health and educational attainment."
Earlier this month, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Colorado's mandatory lifetime registration for juveniles convicted of more than one sex crime doesn't violate their constitutional rights of due process.
In that precedent-setting case, based on a case involving a Mesa County juvenile who was serving time in the Division of Youth Corrections for four other sexually related crimes, the court ruled that the registry isn't punishment per se, but a matter of public safety.
The court also ruled that a juvenile who is placed on the registry doesn't lose privacy rights because their names cannot be accessed over the internet like adult offenders.
One of the bills the interim panel proposed, and Singer's bill may include, would further restrict that access only to law enforcement and victims.
The measure also is to include ways to allow juveniles already on the list to have their names removed as long as they don't re-offend as adults.