CO: Federal judge allows 2 men to sue over lack of access to sex offender treatment

Source: 5/25/23

Incarceration without access to treatment ‘alters the conditions of an inmate’s confinement in a way that can only set back his rehabilitation,’ wrote Judge Nina Wang

Two men incarcerated for sex offenses, who have been moved around to various facilities where they were unable to participate in legally required treatment, may sue Colorado corrections officials for violating their constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled this week.

Gino ___ and Brian ___ filed suit last year, alleging the only thing preventing them from being paroled is their failure to complete sex offender treatment. However, according to ___ , the Colorado Department of Corrections is not abiding by its own policy for prioritizing detainees for treatment and is instead considering “the convenience of CDOC staff” in its decisions.

U.S. District Court Judge Nina Y. Wang agreed the men had credibly alleged the state is violating their right to due process. Without questioning the legitimacy of Colorado’s entire scheme for punishing sex offenses — laid out in the Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act of 1998 — Wang believed one specific aspect is problematic: SOLSA requires treatment as part of sex offender sentencing, but the state is not providing it.

“Without treatment, the conditions of SOLSA confinement are fundamentally and irretrievably altered: the inmate loses a segment of the sentence, which the General Assembly deemed necessary and appropriate to punishment, rehabilitation, and reentry into society at large,” she wrote in a May 23 order.

Wang also took the unusual step of authorizing pro bono legal representation for ___ , who have litigated their case by themselves from prison. Judges can make such a decision when, among other things, there is merit to a self-represented party’s claims.

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Yes. Sue Colorado. Sue them good. Sue them for millions. Make sure it hurts their pocketbook.