It’s now Governor Hickenlooper’s decision. The words no Coloradan wants to hear. And, it’s especially bad when it’s a serious topic like sentencing for child predators. Yesterday, the state legislature sent a bill to Hickenlooper’s desk that slightly resembles Jessica’s law. The bill is H.B. 1260, and it would create minimum penalties for sexual abuse of children under the age of 12.
A crux of Jessica’s law is the minimum sentencing guidelines, and H.B. 1260 has that, but the spirit of the law is that the minimum sentencing guidelines are steep – a deterrent for would-be predators. Most minimum sentencing guidelines falling under Jessica’s Law are minimum 25 years. This bill starts at 12 years. Here’s what Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) had to say about the bill, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel:
“The timidity of this bill ought to be embarrassing to the sponsor and everyone here because with a tiny bit of leadership, a tiny bit of prioritization in the billion dollars that we’re spending (in the budget) we could do so much more.”
The other issue is that a weakened Jessica’s Law, as compared to our neighbors, puts at risk Colorado’s children. According to a website Enact Jessica’s Law Now, most of Colorado’s neighbors already have a full version of Jessica’s Law in place. Kansas and New Mexico have partial versions of Jessica’s law, but even Kansas has a 25-year sentencing minimums for child molesters.
Rep. Libby Szabo (R-Arvada), a champion of mandatory sentencing for child predators, also noted that the bill, which was milquetoast to begin with, has been further diluted throughout the appropriations process, which basically removed the funding necessary to implement the bill:
“We sent it over to the Senate, and funny thing, they turned the bill into absolutely nothing that will protect our children because it takes the appropriations out that will actually do what (HB)1260 set out to do.”
Any measure that toughens sentencing against child predators is great, but let’s be clear this is a watered-down version. Critics of the critics say that our society protects our children too much. To that, we call B.S. Not protecting our society’s most vulnerable makes us barbarians. Why do Democrats consistently side with criminals instead of Colorado’s families?