COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado state auditor has written a scathing performance review about a state board responsible for developing standards for treating and managing registered sex offenders.
The audit said members of the Sex Offender Management Board voted on policy revisions that benefited their firms, did not reference supporting evidence when setting standards as required, failed to verify the qualifications of applicants it sanctioned to treat sex offenders and did not adequately investigate complaints against treatment providers, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
The audit also found that in 2018 through 2019, nine board members “had actual conflicts or situations that created the appearance of a conflict that were not disclosed and did not prevent them from performing official actions.”
Officials in the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the 25-member board, said during a legislative hearing Tuesday that they were addressing the problems identified in the audit, but legislators said they were skeptical.
The board has received complaints in recent years, with civil rights advocates and legislators arguing they should not require low-level sex offenders to keep taking polygraphs or bar even young juvenile offenders from living with their siblings.
“I’d have greater hope if these issues had not been languishing for many years,” Republican state Sen. Paul Lundeen said, adding that the board has received complaints since 2015 and has shown it was resistant to change.
The board is still working on how to ensure members with experience in sex offender management, such as polygraphers and therapists, could serve on the board and provide expertise while not violating state laws meant to prevent financial conflicts of interest, said Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, the liaison within the state’s public safety department to the board.
Lobanov-Rostovsky said the board has asked for guidance from the state attorney general’s office, and consultant, Yuma County Commissioner Trent Bushner, had helped craft new conflict-of-interest policies.