Jessica's Law & Colorado

By: Jeff Morrow Email
By: Jeff Morrow Email

There are around 400,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. alone. Two thirds of their victims were under the age of 18.

Colorado is now one of only eight states that have not passed some form of Jessica's Law, a law that has harsh punishments for certain sex offenses on children.

It was the savage rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford a young girl in Florida that led to Jessica's Law. Monday afternoon Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret and State Senator Josh Penry took to the podium to discuss the possibility of enacting Jessica's Law here in Colorado.

Eret says, "We have laws here in Colorado that are very similar in fact, that actually carry lifetime sentences, some that are longer than Jessica's Law."

Senator Penry says, "I believe that there is a real need to enact Jessica's Law, a tough minimum mandatory requirement of 20 years in prison for the first time a monster rapes a child."

Under Jessica's Laws passed across the country, a convicted sex offender faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a lifetime of monitoring through probation and GPS locators if they commit a serious sex offense with a victim under the age of 12.

Eret says the current mandates in the state of Colorado are just fine. She says, "We have a life sentence already. We have mandatory sentencing statutes that take away discretion from the courts. If you commit certain crimes you are mandated to do this amount of time."

Penry's argument is not every District Court treats cases the way Mesa County does. Penry says, "Pete Hautzinger and Tammy Eret have been awesome. As I told the group, if we had Pete and Tammy out there prosecuting these cases i mean it would be a no brainer their wouldn't be a debate."

Penry introduced Jessica's Law last year but it failed because opponents argued it would cost the state more to jail sex offenders longer. Penry says, "Would it be worth it, would it be worth a few million dollars to protect 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 kids from a rape? I think the answer is clearly yes."

Eret says, "Well we would follow any law that's enacted. I think that Colorado does a good job in what we have and we do make sure that we protect the community and our kids."

Eret says no matter what, as long as she is working for the District Attorney's office, she will make sure no sex offender goes unpunished, whether there is a Jessica's law or not.

Senator Penry expects to reintroduce Jessica's Law in the next state legislative session.

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