The Denver Post
Joyce Foster is a state senator and a rabbi's wife.
She's also somewhat of an anti-hero.
Given the chorus against her this week, you'd think the Denver Democrat had walked up and shot someone's dog.
Twice, The Denver Post asked if she had a relative once enrolled in the sex-offender program whose exclusive referrals her amendment sought to end. Twice, she said no.
This presents obvious problems for a state lawmaker and rabbi's wife, not necessarily in that order.
But as the witch hunt continues — as Foster faces ethics complaints and a possible veto of the bill containing her amendment — let's consider the context.
Like the rest of us who hear from people with problems, Foster says she long received complaints about THE, Teaching Humane Existence, a treatment program said to use the threat of life sentences to keep offenders in line. Founder Greig Veeder believes there's no cure for clients, who pay hundreds a month, often indefinitely.
Given the 11,085 registered sex offenders in Colorado, I suspect Veeder's right about lots of predators. But I'm also sure he's wrong about plenty of folks on the list, including the 18-year-olds who consensually touched 14-year-olds.
Three years ago, defense lawyers began working with the state to examine why probation officers feed cases to certain treatment programs. They also looked into why other programs were blacklisted.
Foster is a
former Denver councilwoman who once worked for Jewish Family Service. People confided in her. She heard complaints about THE well before Julian Newman — married to the sister of her husband, Steven Foster — moved to Colorado, enrolled in the program after a sex-assault conviction in Wisconsin and started griping. I don't doubt it was her idea, not her brother-in-law's, to float an amendment allowing sex offenders a choice among programs so they're not forced to pay for and undergo indefinite treatment that's not helping. State law allows drug and domestic-violence offenders choices in treatment.
I have no reason to suspect Foster was motivated by anything but the desire to protect Newman's identity, as is the tendency with clergy, and by instincts to shield her relatives from shame, as families are apt to do.
"I lied. And I apologize. But I did it to protect people," says Foster. Newman left Colorado years ago and wouldn't have benefited.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Denver Post