Democrats sure had their hands full this last session. Between same-day voter registration, raising electric rates on rural Colorado, infringing on our Second Amendment rights, and other special interest paybacks, Democrats seemed to be busy. But with all the bills they forced through the legislature, they failed in their primary responsibility: protecting Coloradans from violent criminals.
In May, a CBS4 report found that, “dangerous parolees were either removed from intensive supervised parole in the last five years or never placed on it in the first place.” In one case, a parolee with an 11-page criminal record was not placed on Intensive Supervision because of arbitrary and unsafe program caps. A month later, he murdered a mother of four.
Another parolee, known for escape attempts, was released and placed on low-level supervision 3 years early because of “missteps, miscommunications and questionable judgments” on the part of the Colorado Department of Corrections. A few weeks later, he confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering a Lakewood woman.
Another parolee, who agreed to therapy as part of his release, didn’t attend those therapy sessions and faced no repercussions. He’s now accused of sexually assaulting a nine year old girl.
Why is it that Democrats can’t make it a priority to keep our children and our communities safe?
This last session, I introduced a bill modeled on legislation in effect in 45 states. The bill would have imposed stronger sentences on criminals who sexually assault children. Known as Jessica’s Law, it would have given law enforcement a powerful tool to protect our children from the most dangerous criminals among us. Rather than protect our kids, Democrats used every parliamentary trick in the book, bending over backwards to avoid even discussing the bill on the House floor.
But just when you thought it couldn’t get worse – that releasing offenders early or not giving them appropriate supervision was the worst Democrats could do – Governor Hickenlooper upped the ante.
Showing a complete lack of leadership and a total disregard for the families of murder victims, the Governor indefinitely postponed the execution of convicted mass murderer Nathan Dunlap. So while the justice system worked, and the families of his victims were about to realize the closure they deserve, the Governor intervened.
I’m not sure about you, but I expect a governor to make decisions and lead, to do his best to protect us from violent criminals and to make sure that there is justice for crime victims. This governor seems unwilling or unable to do so.
Apparently Colorado Democrats like releasing prisoners early, rather than protecting children by passing legislation supported by 90% of the country.
Standing in the way of justice and being proud of saving a mass murderer’s life does not make you competent to recommend how we best protect our children. The willingness to defend criminals and an inability or unwillingness to protect Coloradans and fix our broken parole system is rampant throughout the Hickenlooper administration and desperately needs to change.
While the parole system releases offenders early –offenders who attack victims again- Democrats use the same old excuses to stand in the way of change. I will continue, to put Colorado families first. It’s time the Colorado enacts Jessica’s Law and for that to happen the Democratic legislature and Governor Hickenlooper need to get out of the way.
Libby Szabo represents Arvada in the State House of Representatives, where she serves as Assistant House Minority Leader
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of Rep. Szabo’s column erroneously identified Dan Schoen as the Director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice