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The Deletion Of Children’s Names From Criminal Justice Records (SB 23-075) will be heard on Monday, February 13 in the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Colorado State Capitol, Image courtesy of Good Free Photos.

This bill concerns the redaction of children’s names from criminal justice records. Current law requires the deletion of children’s names and other identifying information from records if the child is a victim of a sexual offense. Otherwise, criminal justice agencies are allowed to redact the names of child victims or witnesses upon a finding that disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest.”

The Colorado Press Association (CPA) is requesting an amendment to the bill, and will be testifying in defense of this position in the hearing on Monday.

What the bill does:

  • The names of child victims and witnesses would be removed from criminal justice records before the records are released to the public
  • The names of all child victims and witnesses would be redacted and records of official action mentioning them would be stamped with the notation “CHILD VICTIM” or “CHILD WITNESS”

The CPA is requesting an amendment that maintains the concerns of the bill’s proponents and addresses the unintended consequence of detracting from child safety by making it easier for perpetrators in positions of authority to shield themselves.

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition has more information about the bill here.

In too many cases, whether it be police, teachers, daycare workers, doctors, or nurses, the institutions and adults involved in cases involving deaths, assaults, or other crimes against children actively work to suppress and downplay information. Too often, they hide behind well-intentioned laws and policies enacted to protect the privacy of children.

You can read a draft of Tim Regan-Porter’s testimony coming up on Monday.

There are times when reporting requires obtaining the names of minors to determine and verify the details of what happened. Obtaining those names can be difficult or impossible without the release of the names from records custodians, and an amendment to allow a court to authorize the release of this information is an important failsafe against authorities seeking to suppress information about wrongdoing in their offices.