Colorado sex offender board votes to stop calling convicts ‘sex offenders’

One state just made a move that likely has sex offenders celebrating.

CBS Denver reports that Colorado officials just voted to stop using the term “sex offender” and instead refer to those individuals as “adults who commit sexual offenses.” 

The decision was made by Colorado’s Sex Offender Management Board, which sets the standards and guidelines for treatment providers. The board is made up of a wide array of individuals, including defenders and prosecutors.

The board voted to change the term “sex offender” to “adults who commit sexual offenses” by a tally of 10–6, according to The Denver Post.

What’s in a name?

Reports indicate that Colorado’s Sex Offender Management Board considered five alternative labels for the term “sex offender.” The one that was favored most by sex offenders appears to have been “client.”

Ahead of the board’s vote, several arguments were made in favor of moving away from the term “sex offender.” Some claimed that it would reduce recidivism, while others argued that it doesn’t distinguish between those sex offenders who are receiving treatment and those who aren’t, while still others argued that one should not be labeled a “sex offender” for a crime committed decades ago.

The more convincing arguments, however, would appear to come from those who opposed moving away from the term “sex offender.” They argued that doing so would reduce accountability. They also argued that it would be unfair to the victims of sex offenders.

One of those victims, a rape survivor, pointed out the absurdity of the situation, saying, “I’m involved today after hearing that it would be improper or offensive in some manner for me to refer to the man who raped me as a sex offender.”

At least “adults who commit sexual offenses” isn’t that far off.

Looking ahead

It’s important to note that the decision made by the board, to change the term “sex offender” to “adults who commit sexual offenses,” will only apply in the context of the standards and guidelines that the board sets for treatment providers.

It will not change anything in the criminal justice system. However, the concern, of course, is that this is a beginning step in that direction.

There have already been attempts to make such changes in the criminal justice system’s labeling of sex offenders. For example, last year, Colorado lawmakers considered a bill that would ban the term “sexually violent predator” from the state’s laws.

Latest News