Judicial courage in the face of Colorado’s Lifetime Act

Susan Walker . . . As the mother of a son convicted of sexual assault and sentenced under Colorado’s 1998 Lifetime Act, it is clear to me why Boulder District Judge Patrick Butler chose two years of jail with work release and 20 years’ probation instead of prison for Austin James Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, a former University of Colorado student, was convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting a drunken woman he was pretending to care for.

A recent Denver Post editorial rightly pointed out that “a judge facing an offender like Wilkerson fears that should he sentence him to prison, the young man could remain there far longer than his sentence — even for life.” While the Colorado Department of Corrections has made gains in its quest to keep up with treatment needs, there is still a huge wait list.

Jail with work release and sex offender intensive supervised probation for 20 years is not a light sentence. It includes two years of jail incarceration, and provides the toughest probation experience anywhere for any crime. The containment model utilized by the state’s Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) offers no wiggle room. A supervising officer, a sex-offense-specific therapist, and a polygrapher make up the team that ensures the person under supervision plays by the rules or faces revocation and prison. Many do not make it because of revocation, natural death or suicide.

The tools of the probation trade include safety plans, polygraphs, sanctions for not keeping up with treatment and supervision costs, ankle bracelets and regular urine checks for presence of drugs and alcohol and more. They also include plethysmographs.

A plethysmograph is an instrument Judge John Kane recently compared to “such pseudoscientific practices as phrenology and physiogamy.” Men must drop their pants and a wire is hooked to their penis while they are read blatantly suggestive words and shown deviant pictures, all in an effort to see what material causes an erection.

(Please read full opinion in the Denver Post)

Susan Walker is director of the Coalition for Sexual Offense Restoration in Denver, Colorado, a state affiliate of RSOL.

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10 Thoughts to “Judicial courage in the face of Colorado’s Lifetime Act”

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  1. tim

    I would agree it took courage, especially in the political sexual reality this nation exists in. What concerns me is that even if and when your son completes all of the probation and supervised release, he would still have to register.

    What purpose is served if he successfully completes all of this intensive and unimaginable scrutiny. He could still be classified a level 3 threat either in Colorado or another state he chooses to move to.

    Why is a registry permitted to classify persons as level 3 even when a state mental hygiene evaluation by true mental health professionals says that person is not a substantive threat. What does a judge and a form know that mental health professionals don’t.

    In some states prior to a person convicted of a sex offense is released they are subjected to a psychiatric exam to determine whether or not they are a substantive threat. If they pass this they get released but are then subject to a tier 1,2,or 3 classification. Tier 2 and 3 means they are substantive threats to reoffend. Even when the psychiatrists who permitted their release do not think they are.

    If a person fails the psychiatric exam, they are then sent to a court where two determinations can be made. 1) they can be civilly committed, or 2) they can be subjected to intensive supervised release.

    The point is that despite any success of being initially released or receiving further supervision you can still be given a high threat level. Meaning the former was a waste of time.

    Good luck to your son, but either way he is in for an arduous journey that will never end until his time is up on this planet.

  2. Had Enough

    By only pushing against a problem therby ignoring the solution we’ve created a Registry scheme which itself is a Sex Crime. By its very presence it multiples victims by the millions, destroys families and serves only to feed the Polictician’s greedy obsession for attention and power. Our unconscionable, deeply flawed response to sexual abuse is a black, infected sore on the face of Justice. We’ve only begun to realize the intense and immense destruction it has inflicted on the American Family. The sex offender registry has succeeded at inflicting the same indescribable pain and level of tragedy on millions of families that once only affected a very tiny few. The Registry has always been about revenge – the darkest most evil of human emotion, isn’t that right Mrs. Kanka?

  3. Ron

    The money machine must be fed. They want. Their money one way or another. I feel it is particularly punitive if you are made to pay a quarterly “administrative” fee amounting to $100.00 dollars annually in Colorado, so collectively if you don’t pay the required coffer then incarceration and further penalty is stipulated as a result. This is clearly construed as a compelled condition more so than regulatory.

    1. Ron

      So if you paid the fee annually for twenty years it would amount to an insane $24,000 dollars! If you do the math that pays for a lot more regarding rehabilitation and reintegrating one back into society. Sad schematics and trickery in full scale

  4. Chris

    I suppose you could give the POs, law enforcement, treatment providers, lawyers, judges, etc. those so called phrenology and physiogamy tests and make them listen to sexually explicit audio and watch sexually explicit video, and see if they can pass those tests.

    1. Tanya

      I’m not sure how these exams are not considered a “forced sex act” perpetrated upon these offenders by the examiners. I am sure they are done against the will of the offender. Just sayin……

  5. Emil S

    When will this sex offender registry end so people can function as a member of a society and not as a leper?

  6. Emil good question when will this all end. It will all end when authorities know the truth that they don’t go around and play their mind games to induce one to make a choice to meet a fictitious gal. While I hate to preach again about all this. Read your history.

    See police have authority to do good but if you do evil than watch out. There is confusion in all this. Authorities are to promote good first. Asking one to bring rubbers or send dirty pictures or whatever they do to get one into a situation to make a choice is unheard in any true Minister.

    One can’t call the kettle black, all lives matter and justice today is like going to an unjust court room and pleading to this with a plea deal. Did they trespass against you first or did you trespass against them? So we all need to stand up to this and make a stand like RSOL is doing but they sometimes need input and directions also.

    This country is dirty and when authorities do things like this it makes it all the more dirty.

  7. Brandan Strickland

    I have a question that doesn’t neccesarilly tie into this but I would like to know the answer to: If a man has sex with a girl who lied about her age and the man goes to jail and become a sex offender, is that the government saying rape by deception is ok? After all, if the girl lied about her age and said she was of legal consenting age, she’s lying, like in the Zach Anderson case. I’m not saying that the girl should necessarily be treated as a rapist, but it’s still something that bugs me.

  8. Want Justice

    When will this mAdness end? The SOMB, a.k.a SOB’s think they are in charge but guess what? They ARE NOT! Only God is in charge. All those greedy hypocrites on the SORNA and politicians will have their day of judgement for ruining so many of God’s people’S lives. My son is too suffering for having sex with his first girlfriend ever and they were both in school! I can bet you those politicians and the SORN, SOMB, SOB’s in my book did the exact same thing when they were his age. They are such lieing hypocrites, who are they to condemn others? Why can’t we stop this madness? The media is no help with the crap they broadcast either. Polygraph’s was proven on 20/20 as not effective and most employers do not use Polygraphs anymore. So, how did those idiot’s on the Sex Offender Board get to continue to use this worthless device? Why can’t we get a human rights, constitution, bill of rights, Judge, attorney, someone with authority to outlaw this piece of crap Polygraph worthless machinery?