Term 'Sex Offender' to Be Dropped Due to 'Negative Impact' on Abusers


There are no more sex offenders in Colorado.

They’re now “adults who commit sexual offenses,” according to a vote last week by the Sex Offender Management Board of the Colorado Division of Justice.

Board chair Kimberly Kline told the Denver Post it’s about that nasty label: sex offender. “I think the biggest thing is research shows us that assigning a label has the potential for negative effects in rehabilitation,” she said.

“If we’re talking about how someone speaks about themselves … that can increase risk,” she continued. “Ultimately it is victim centered if we’re reducing risk.”

Victim-centered? Not according to board member Jessica Dotter in her dissent at a meeting Friday about developing the new term.

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“Prosecutors are not in favor of this change generally,” said Dotter, who represents prosecutors as Sexual Assault Resource Prosecutor at the Colorado District Attorneys Council.

“Victim advocates, therapists, law enforcement that I’ve spoke with along with, all of the D.A.s that I represent, are not in favor of replacing this term.”

“In having met with victims for years and years, their generally most common requests are to be believed — that they were offended on and they were sexually assaulted by a person. They want their offender to be held accountable and to be known as a person who — as an offender, as a person who’s committed these crimes.

“They had to convince 12 members of their community or get a plea deal done to actually have a conviction for these offenders that the SOMB has purview over,” Dotter continued.

Should the term "sex offender" be replaced?

“That’s incredibly difficult and they had to obtain, work hard to obtain the label they are now branded with as a victim or a survivor for their lifetimes.”

She said individuals treating sex offenders already use less harsh terms in dealing with them and she questioned whether or not such approaches reduced repeated offenses.

Sexual abuse victim Victoria Esquibel told KOAA-TV, “We don’t ever really feel like we get the justice that is deserved, and when reading this, I almost feel again like we are protecting the abuser.”

The term “sex offender” will not completely go away.

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“The term ‘sex offender’ will continue to be used in Colorado statute and the criminal justice system, including courts, law enforcement and the Colorado Sex Offender Registry,” according to an SOMB news release.

But wait. Will the name of the SOMB be changed to the Adults Who Commit Sexual Offenses Management Board?

No. “The name of the SOMB itself will also remain unchanged,” the news release said. Looks like even political correctness sometimes has to rein itself in.

After all, that’s generally how you can tell if a concept has been changed for PC purposes: if it adds verbiage. That’s how we get “sight impaired” for blind, “sexually liberated” for promiscuous, “terminally unavailable” for dead.

Friday’s meeting of the SOMB examined four different renditions of replacing the common two-word “sexual offender” term. One with six words: “Adults who have committed have committed sexual offenses,” seven words: “Adults who engaged in sexually abusive behaviors,” nine words: “Adults in treatment for engaging in sexually abusive behaviors” and the five-word selection “Adults who commit sexual offenses.”

Whew! Political correctness is a lot of work!

All the more reason to stay with sex offenders as a fast, accurate description of those who commit horrible crimes.

And what better way to face rehabilitation than to admit what one has done is wrong? As a crime. And as sin.

God Himself demands recognition of sin — a dimension of repentance — before forgiveness.

And sexual offenders can find forgiveness in Christ by first realizing that they are, among other things, those sobering two words: sexual offenders.

No euphemisms allowed. Not even in Colorado.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.