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Treatment Required For Prisoners Committing Sex Offenses In Prison

By Bob Williams

The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected a plea by a state prisoner to avoid Colorado's Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) which the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) requires based on sexually based disciplinary infractions.

Timothy Reeves was classified an SI on the S1 S5 Sexual Violence Scale (no sex offense history) in 1993 when he arrived at the CDOC. In 1995, Reeves masturbated in front of a female guard and was convicted of sexual abuse in an administrative disciplinary action. He later made sexually explicit statements to a prison nurse and was ultimately administratively convicted of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. He then exposed himself to a female prison librarian resulting in a sexual misconduct administrative conviction. The CDOC reclassified Reeves an S3 (sex offenses committed in prison). Seven years later Reeves' case manager recommended him for the SOTP. When he refused, the CDOC began withholding three and later four days per month of earned time which reduces both his parole eligibility date and his mandatory release date.

Reeves filed a complaint in state district court in the nature of mandamus under C.R.C.P. Rule 106(a)(2) claiming the S3 classification and forced SOTP violated due process and ex post facto laws. The district court granted summary judgment for the CDOC and Reeves appealed.

On appeal, the Court found that the CDOC had authority to classify Reeves as a sex offender requiring treatment. In a case of first impression, the Court construed first the SOTP statute, 16 11.7 101 et seq., C.R.S. (all convicted sex offenders must undergo treatment) which, while mandating treatment, does not list disciplinary convictions in its enumeration of offenses requiring treatment. The Court next added the CDOC's statutory authority to "establish an environment that promotes habilitation for successful reentry into society" found at 17 l 103(l)(a), C.R.S. Then the Court folded in CDOC Administrative Regulation 700 19 governing treatment of sex offenders which encourages prisoners to participate in SOTP and provides for the withholding of earned time if they fail to participate. Upon these authorities the Court held the CDOC has discretion to classify Reeves a sex offender requiring SOTP.

Turning to Reeves' due process allegations, the Court noted the well settled requirement of due process when the sex offense is not the current conviction as established in Chambers v. CDOC. 205 F.3d 1237 (10th Cir. 2000) based on pre-confinement conduct. Finding that the CDOC adversarial disciplinary process provides all the process that is due, Reeves' due process claim was rejected.

Relying again on the Chambers decision, the Court found no vested right to a particular parole date or parole eligibility date or earned time credits. Thus the loss of earned time credits for failure to comply with SOTP does not lengthen Reeves' sentence and hence no violation of the ex post facto law exists. See Reeves v. Colorado Department of Corrections. 155 P.3d 648 (Colo. App. 2007).

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Related legal case

Reeves v. Colorado Department of Corrections