Colorado Springs

Coffman will appeal federal ruling declaring sex offender registry unconstitutional

DENVER, Co. - Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman will appeal the recent federal ruling declaring the state's sex offender registry unconstitutional.

Two weeks ago, a federal judge ruled in favor of three convicted sex offenders, who claimed the online registry was a form of cruel and unusual punishment because it extended punishment beyond prison or jail time and probation.

The judge also said the registry served more to punish the plaintiffs for past crimes than as a public safety measure and that it negatively affected the plaintiffs' ability to live and work, as well as put them in danger of attacks or verbal abuse.

Coffman did not initially announce whether she would appeal the ruling, but in statement given exclusively to KRDO Newschannel 13 late Tuesday, a spokesperson said her office will proceed with an appeal on behalf of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which maintains the registry.

“I am surprised by the court’s decision, and think the ruling contains several legal errors which we will now address on appeal,” Coffman said.

Coffman also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously found that sex offender registration laws are tools to protect the public, not a form of additional punishment.

"Colorado, its forty-nine sister states, and the federal government all have sex offender registry laws in place to inform the public and protect them from sexual offenders who have been found guilty of sexual crimes, including heinous crimes against children. Survivors of sexual assault are forever impacted by the trauma they have experienced, and we must never lose sight of the responsibility we have to prevent the victimization of more innocent people,” she said.

The long-term impact of Millard, et al. v. Rankin are still unclear.

Coffman said the federal ruling would not have any immediate impact, but would potentially allow the three plaintiffs to take legal action in a state court to remove themselves from the registry.

However, authorities in El Paso County have previously told KRDO Newschannel 13 that depending on the outcome of a potential appeal, it could have a major impact on the public's right to knew where convicted sex offenders are located in their neighborhoods.

A spokeperson for the attorney general's office on Tuesday was unaware of any further legal action taken by the three plaintiffs in the federal case or any other convicted sex offenders in relation to the recent ruling.

She was also not sure exactly how soon that appeal would be filed.


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