UPDATE: Release from House Democrats, Rep. Mike Foote's "Jessica's Law" passes unanimously:
“As a deputy district attorney, I have prosecuted some of these crimes, and I have seen how devastating they can be for victims and their families,” Rep. Foote said. “I want to help them heal by knowing that Colorado has no tolerance for those who prey on our children. And I want DAs and law enforcement to have every available tool to maximize the safety of our kids and to put the worst of the worst behind bars for a very long time.”
…Members of the criminal justice and law enforcement communities, as well as victims’ rights advocates, testified in support of the bill.
“House Bill 1260 brings Jessica’s Law to Colorado in a way that makes sense for Colorado,” Rep. Foote told the committee. “We’re not going to cut and paste any provision of any other state’s criminal law without making allowances for our structure and the way things work in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]
CBS4's Shaun Boyd reported Friday about legislation, two pieces of legislation actually, up for debate in the Colorado House today. Both call themselves "Jessica's Law," named after a Florida child who was murdered by a convicted sex offender out of prison on parole:
The intent of both bills is the same — to make sure anyone who sexually assaults a child spends a long time behind bars.
Both bills are named after Jessica Lunsford, a young girl from Florida who was raped and murdered by a sex offender on parole…
“For these types of offenders a longer sentence is something that’s necessary,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Boulder.
Foote is among those who voted against the Szabo bill, calling it “one size fits all.” But he also promised Mark Lunsford he would try to do something. He’s now introduced his own “Jessica’s Law.” His bill would put child molesters away for 10 to 24 years depending on the seriousness of the crime.
“My bill treats different types of actions differently, but also makes sure to target those who are committing the worst of the worst offenses,” Foote said.
Boyd's report, while a fair look at this year's bills, leaves out a number of important details from the debate last year over the GOP version of "Jessica's Law"–details that few under the Dome can forget. The fact is, law enforcement representatives including Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and victim's advocates like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed last year's version the bill. The reason is simple: Colorado already has very tough sentencing laws for sex offenders. What GOP Rep. Libby Szabo proposed last year was more about stripping away judicial sentencing discretion in an undifferentiated way. Rep. Mike Foote's bill, though we haven't heard if it's considered any more necessary by the DAs and victims than Szabo's, at least tries to look objectively at the types of crimes committed.
This is also the debate in which Rep. Szabo appeared on the FOX News O'Reilly Factor, and made the scurrilous allegation that Speaker Mark Ferrandino was "obviously protecting someone" after the bill died in a House committee. Especially given the opinion among law enforcement and victims advocates that the law isn't necessary in Colorado, we hope that Rep. Foote's generous attempt to accommodate proponents means this is the last we'll ever have to hear about "Jessica's Law."