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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorado sex-crime database perplexes

When President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Act into law, it required states to contribute to a national database of sex offenders with more current and stringent registration requirements.

But states and American Indian tribes are having a tough time implementing some of the requirements of the 2006 law — such as making the names and addresses of juvenile sex offenders available on the Internet.

In Colorado, officials have met for more than a year to decide whether to comply with the Adam Walsh Act by July or lose $240,000 in federal funding.

And it may be worth losing the money since it could cost more to fulfill the law's requirements.

"I think at this point, the committee has not reached a final conclusion," said Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, program director of Colorado's Sex Offender Management Board. "We are looking at the fact that this is an unfunded mandate. The other issue is that the committee and the state are committed to doing what is best for safety and victim protection. And looking at this act, is it going to further the cause?"

The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington think tank that promotes alternatives to prison incarceration, has estimated that the law would cost Colorado $7.8 million to implement.

Lobanov-Rostovsky said that figure sounds too high — unless it figures in the cost to all local law enforcement statewide — but he has not come up with his own cost estimate yet.

This fall, the committee is expected to present a preliminary recommendation to Gov. Bill Ritter to decide on compliance.

"The money is not necessarily there, and does it make sense above and beyond that even if the money were there?" Lobanov-Rostovsky asked. [Mark Godsey]

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