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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Getting Ready for the 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session


The 2018 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, Virginia 7 weeks from TODAY, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 10th session as a volunteer advocate working for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry and Laws. 

The annual Virginia General Assembly is where new State laws are proposed, debated, voted on and passed onto the Governor to be signed into law, amended or vetoed. 

2018 is an odd-year so we are looking at a Long Session (60 calendar days) as opposed to an even-year Short Session (30 calendar days). 

The filing of Bills for the upcoming 2018 session started just two days ago because it’s a Long session, in a Short Session year filing begins in July. 

Four years ago, I posted How a Bill Becomes a Law in Virginia it outlines the process of a bill moving through the Virginia Legislature as well as the differences between a Short and a Long Session. 

This November was an election year, for all 100 VA House seats and for Governor this means an inauguration is on the horizon plus the swearing-in of all new Delegates. This delays the real start of the 2018 session. Short sessions (odd years) are intended to hit-the-ground-running, so they do not follow an election.  

In anticipation of the 2018 G.A. session bills I deleted the 2017 Virginia G.A. page and Committee Member page a few months back. If anyone needs the information posted on that old page I can email it, just let me know. 

Yesterday I started the 2018 VA GA Committee page and today I started the 2018 VA GA Legislation page (see Directory on right side of screen) this is where I’ll post all relevant Bills to this platform. At first the Legislation page may only be updated weekly but by the second week of January until the end of session that page will update daily, sometimes multiple times in a day. 

All Virginia General Assembly Action Alerts will be in posts (not in a page) so you’ll see them as soon as you visit this blog.  

During the 2018 session I will post numerous Action Alerts for everyone to act upon and many times there will be less than 24 hours notice of a bill being heard and my Action Alert posting.  
 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Two Sets of Rules: Virginia will Charge a 15, 16 and 17-Year-Old as an Adult for a Crime but then Claims that Same 15, 16 and 17 Can’t Consent to Sex.


In 1985, I was 14 years old and I had sex for the first time, but according to Virginia law I couldn’t consent to that sex ……..I was a victim.

When I was 15 and 16 years old I was lying about my age to 18, 19 and 20-year-old men at the Wards Corner Roller Rink, Military Circle Mall, Putt-Putt Golf and Waterside in Norfolk.

I clearly remember waiting in line back in 1987 overnight for U2 tickets at the Military Circle Mall with a friend of mine, I was 16 years old and none of the guys (mostly military) we talked to and hung out with that night knew it. My friend didn’t even have money to buy tickets the next morning, she just came along with me for the overnight “experience”, which was a TOTAL party.

I did not look or act like I was 15, 16 or 17 years old, I easily passed as an 18 year old and that’s what I regularly claimed to guys but according to Virginia law if those men believed my lie and had any sort of sexual contact with me the burden fell on them, not me because legally I couldn’t consent.

When I was 15, 16 and 17 years old occasionally I drank alcohol it was easy to acquire just stand outside the Tinee Giant or Be-Lo and ask some guy to buy me (and my girlfriend’s) a 12 pack of beer.

How did I have money to buy beer? I worked.

I began babysitting at the age of 12 by 14 years old I was babysitting until 1-2am sometimes a few miles from home. By 15 or 15.5 years old I had my first job as a cashier at the McDonald’s by the Granby St. bridge in Norfolk, after that I took a job at a local dental office filing, answer phones, cleaning the dental tools, making plaster molds and developing x-rays. After that I was a salesperson at Stitches at Wards Corner, all before I turned 18 years old.

During that time, I was driving a vehicle (not my own, I had to ask to use it) not just during the day but at night as many 16 and 17-year old’s do across Virginia.

In 1987 and 1988 if I had committed a crime like DUI, robbery, drugs or even murder I would have been charged as an adult in Virginia, facing adult penalties even though I was a minor.

The state of Virginia allowed me to hold a paying job and to drive a 2,700+lb vehicle down Interstate-64 at night, without an adult but it says I couldn’t consent to sexual activity. Even if the guy had asked me if I was 18 years old to make sure he wasn’t breaking a law and I flat out lied to him, he was responsible for MY lie if we had any sexual contact. Think about that for a minute, you’re held responsible for someone else’s lie.

This double-standard has bothered me for years especially over the last 10 years since I became an advocate working towards data-driven reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.

What is the hypocrisy of allowing 15, 16 and 17-year olds to hold adult jobs with adult responsibilities, allowing them to drive vehicles that could easily kill other people and charging them with almost any crime as an adult instead of as a minor but SEX...they cannot handle that decision, they aren't old enough to consent, it's too risky for them.
 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Action Item: Why Doesn’t Virginia Track the following Data About its Registered Sex Offenders?



As everyone knows the Virginia State Police spends around $8.2 Million per year on the monitoring of approximately 40% of the entire VSP Registry.

That’s a lot of money especially since it’s for less than half of the entire group. So, you would think the State would track certain data about it’s RSO’s to better understand if they are wasting money treating everyone identically, if there are people who are truly zero-risk that should be removed, if race may place a part in convictions and if RSO’s have a higher rate of homelessness, joblessness or self-employment than other former felons in Virginia.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Virginia 2017 Election Results for House of Delegates, 3-4 Districts are Still Undetermined


Tuesday was Election Day in Virginia, to decide Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, all 100 House of Delegates seats, plus many, many local offices including Commonwealth Attorneys.

Here are a few news articles on Tuesday’s results:
·       After first big electoral test of the Trump era, Virginia Republicans try to sort out a bloodbath, November 8, 2017
http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/government-politics/after-first-big-electoral-test-of-the-trump-era-virginia/article_d589d217-b453-507b-98c1-79fcddf3f3f4.html
·       It's 12 — no, 13 — for Yancey as vote certification begins, November 8, 2017
http://www.dailypress.com/news/newport-news/dp-nws-politics-recount-94-yancey-simonds-20171108-story.html
 
Even as of this morning there are 3-4 Districts that the winner is still uncertain, so I will do my best with this post to be as accurate as possible.
Of the 100 Virginia House of Delegates seats 33 were uncontested which meant the incumbent had no challenger so Election Day was really a waste of time in those 33 VA Districts.

7 House seats had no major party challenger running against the incumbent so the chances the 3rd Party Candidate would win over the incumbent was slim to none and the results from last night are all 7 incumbents won.

7 House other seats had no incumbent running as the current Virginia Delegate had decided to retire at the end of 2017 so a new Representative was inevitable in these 7 Virginia Districts.

These are the VA Districts that had no incumbent with a newly elected Delegate for 2018:
District 2:      Jennifer Carroll Foy-D               https://www.jennifercarrollfoy.org               This District was last held by a Republican and now it has flipped to a Democrat.
District 28:   Possible Recount, See above chart
District 42:   Kathy Tran-D                             
https://www.kathyfordelegate.com             This District was last held by a Republican and now it has flipped to a Democrat.
District 56:   John McGuire-R                        
http://www.mcguire56.com
District 64:   Emily Brewer-R                          http://brewerforva.com
District 72:    Schuyler  Van Valkenburg-D    http://www.schuylervanvalkenburg.com     This District was last held by a Republican and now it has flipped to a Democrat.
District 89:   Jerrauld “Jay” Jones-D              http://www.jayjones.vote

These VA Districts the Incumbent lost and now has a newly elected Delegate for 2018:
District 10:    Wendy Gooditis-D                    http://wendygooditis.com
District 12:
   Chris Hurst-D                            https://www.hurst4delegate.com
District 13:    Danica Roam-D                         https://danicaroem.ngpvanhost.com
District 21:
   Kelly Convirs-Fowler-D            https://www.voteforfowler.com
District 31:
   Elizabeth Guzman-D                 http://www.elizabethguzmanforvirginia.com
District 32:
  David Reid-D                             http://www.reidfordelegate.com
District 50:
  Lee Jin Carter-D                        http://www.carterforvirginia.com
District 51:
   Hala Ayala-D                              https://ayalafordelegate.com
District 67:
   Karrie Delaney-D                      http://www.karriedelaney.com
District 68:
  Dawn Adams-D                         http://adamsfordelegate.com
District 73:
   Debra Rodman-D                      http://www.rodmanfordelegate.com
District 85:
  Cheryl Turpin-D                         https://cherylturpinforvb.com
Every single one of these Districts was last held by a Republican and now it has flipped to a Democrat.

Finally, the four Virginia Districts in the image at the top of this post are still up-in-the air but are all leaning Republican at the moment.

I hope all of you voted on Tuesday as the Virginia General Assembly elections (VA House every 2 years, VA Senate every 4 years) is just as important as the Presidential election.

In the next 2 weeks I will be updating the Virginia Representatives page, I will start a 2018 Virginia General Assembly page and a 2018 VA GA Committee page. Prefiling for 2018 Legislation begins on November 20, 2017.

Mary Davye Devoy

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Today, There is Hope for a Smarter Sex Offender Registry in Virginia


This year I did not meet with Virginia Legislators from Spring through Autumn as I usually do each year, I was losing steam and losing some hope that Virginia would ever move towards reforming the VSP SO Registry and our laws.

For far too long myth, fear and hate has driven Sex Offender legislation while facts, data and proven processes were being willfully ignored by 3 separate Administrations and 9 Virginia Legislatures. The Virginia Senate wasn’t as big as a barrier for reform as the Virginia House was. All smart and proven criminal justice reform that makes it into a piece of Legislation dies a quick and swift death in the Virginia House.

I’ve been called names, I’ve been shamed in Committee meetings, I’ve been silenced by Committee Chairs and I’ve had Legislators say they don’t care what the facts are or what evidence I provide they will always vote for harsher laws against Registered Sex Offenders. Even with all of these reasons to quit, I continue to show up and speak out.

In the 9 sessions I’ve had meetings w/ Republican’s and Democrat’s, I found a few sponsors for legislation (2009- HB2225, 2010-HB1328 SB635, 2011- HB2382 HB1628, 2012- SB420 HB413 HB416, 2014- SB553, 2016-SB11 SB243) and I’ve spoken against myth-based hate-driven legislation with a few successes. Of the 140 current Virginia Delegates I've met with 46 of them and 23 of their Legislative Assistants, that’s 69% of the entire VA House. Of the current 40 Virginia Senators I've met with 26 of them and 10 of their Legislative Assistants, that’s 90% of the entire VA Senate. Then there's all Delegates and Senators who've retired from 2009- 2016 that I had also met with.

I had decided after the 2016 VA G.A. session that holding back the tide of new and harsher SO laws by sharing research, facts and real-life examples of the disaster that the VSP Registry has become was probably the best I could ever do. That any sort of real reform was just a distant dream that I would keep in my back-pocket to maybe revisit one day but I wouldn’t continue putting great efforts towards something the Virginia House majority refused to even study.

Then the 2017 Virginia House Election was held yesterday and for the first time in years I have a new-found hope as the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session approaches.

As of this morning the 2/3’s Republican majority of the Virginia House is now an even split with an additional 5 seats so close that recounts will be needed in the coming days. A large number of Delegates who have flat-out refused to consider any criminal justice reform let alone Sex Offender reform will not be seated in January 2018.

I am not pro-Democrat/anti-Republican and I want that to be clear.

I am anti obstructionist.

I am anti willful ignorance.

I am anti fear-mongering.

I am anti myth.

I am anti hate.

I am anti meanness.

I am anti shame.

I am pro facts.

I am pro data.

I am pro proven processes.

I am pro second chances.

And I am pro smart criminal justice reform and that includes Sex Offender Registries, restrictions, regulations and mandates.

Yesterday myth and fear were both rejected by Virginia voters, I pray this momentum will not only continue but expand.

I knew when I took on this role in late-2008 that smart Sex Offender reform would not be an easy road or would come quickly but I believed it could be possible and that it was worth the fight.

We all need a little hope, a light at the end of the tunnel once in a while. Now that hope may be snatched away and that light may dim as time goes by but today I have as much hope as I did that day in October 2008 that I decided to become an advocate for this platform. I am reenergized and I am going to dig back in as hard if not harder then I originally had in 2009-2011.

So, whether you are disappointed or excited about yesterday’s Virginia election results if you support the reform efforts I have been advocating for, for the last 9 years then today is a very good day.

Sincerely,

Mary Davye Devoy

Friday, October 27, 2017

Visiting RSO’s from Out-of-State: In 2011 Virginia State Police Legislative Liaison told the Virginia Legislature They Must Register in 14 days, Turns Out That was WRONG!


Over the last 9 years I have shared many frustrating interactions, conflicting information, bad processes and inaccurate claims when it comes to getting a straight answer, registration, re-registration and updating data for Virginia’s 22,800+ Registered Sex Offenders with the Virginia State Police.

In the last week I could not get a straight ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer from the Virginia State Police (the owner of the VA Sex Offender Registry and the monitor and manager of VA’s RSO’s) on a very basic question, all they will do is point me to the Code of Virginia for me (a non-attorney) to interpret what it means.

First let me give you some history on the topic.
 

Back in 2011 there was a Bill that the VSP Legislative Liaison (I gave his name to Virginia Legislators in an email 4 days ago but I’m omitting from this post) was asked by the House Militia, Police and Safety Sub-Committee to first explain how the current law was applied and he did. 

The Bill was HB1579 and on January 28, 2011 in House Sub-Committee before it was amended Lt. Reed explained to everyone in the room that a visiting (not volunteering, not for school and not for work) Registered Sex Offender who spends 14 consecutive days in the Commonwealth must register with the authorities and an RSO who spends a total of 30 days in a calendar year must register. This clarified https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title9.1/chapter9/section9.1-905/ to everyone when it comes to the 14 days and to the 30 days. 

So since 2011 when out-of-state RSO's contact me and they ask when do I need to register in Virginia while I'm on vacation or visiting family and friends I have told them all per the VSP Legislative Liaisons clarification of the statute back on 01/28/11 on the 14th consecutive day.
 

Well last week I reread the VSP SP236 form and I saw that there was a check box only for 30 days, not for 14 days so I sent an email to the VSP asking, What about 14 days per the 2011 VSP Legislative Liaisons explanation to the Virginia Sub-Committee? 

VSP Lt. Jeremy Kaplan (one of the three people I asked in my email) copied VA Code and highlighted the employment portion (14 days) and the extended visit portion (30 days) and he then concluded in his email reply that the VSP SP236 form is correct per VA code.  

This reply from Lt. Kaplan meant what the VSP Legislative Liaison told the House Sub-Committee, me and the entire room back in 2011 was completely incorrect.  

So, I wanted to be sure that I understood and I asked Lt. Kaplan to confirm (w/ a ‘yes’ or ‘no’) is an out-of-state RSO who visits Virginia for 14-29 days required to register with Virginia authorities and he again copied VA Code but did not answer ‘Yes’ or “No’. 

This means: 

1.     The 2011 VSP Legislative Liaison who described exactly what must be done by a visiting RSO to the Virginia Legislature was wrong. That’s a big deal! Many Virginia Delegates and Senators chose to believe whatever the VSP Legislative Liaisons tell them in Committee hearings even when I stand up and point out they are incorrect and then give supporting data to back up my point.  

2.    RSO’s from Virginia and from Out-of-State should be able to ask the owner and the manager of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry (the Virginia State Police) a 'Yes "or "No" question and get an actual answer to avoid arbitrary felonies. But instead the VSP copies VA Code for non-attorney’s and even illiterate folks to figure it out on their own and if they get it wrong you can bet they’ll face a new felony. 

3.    RSO’s from Out-of-State who are visiting (not volunteering, not going to school and not working) do not need to register with Virginia authorities until the 30th day. I will be revising my VA RSO’s Legal Restrictions and Regulation page to reflect this change in information that has come directly from the Virginia State Police.
 

After 9 years of volunteer advocacy I shouldn’t find the Virginia State Police haphazard answers to basic questions surprising or disheartening, but I do and so should the Virginia Administration and Legislature. 

Virginia State Police Legislative Liaisons should only speak the truth/fact at Virginia General Assembly Session Committee hearings when new and harsher laws are being considered.  

AND the VSP should be required to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions for Registered Sex Offenders who are trying to interpret their legal obligations whether they live, work, go to school or are just visiting the Commonwealth.  

Mary Davye Devoy

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Action Item: Ask Virginia Administration to get the VA Department of Corrections to Track Registered Sex Offenders


 
Back on June 21, 2017 I posted the 2016 VADOC totals along with an action item to get the VADOC to go back to tracking the recidivism (re-offense) rates of Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders. Then on September 21st  I posted the 2017 numbers.

Today I am reposting the action item because of two Virginia Candidates campaigns. 

One is Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Gillespie who first had a flyer calling Ralph Northam soft on Child Molesters. Then Mr. Gillespie had a video produced saying Unrepentant Sex Offenders should not have their rights restored and then held up one anomaly as an example of Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia, later this ad was edited to say Unrepentant Violent Offenders but still held up the one man as the example. Then this morning a new television video ad is running for Mr. Gillespie with Woodbridge VA Attorney Heather Steele (a mother) continuing the fearmongering of “Sex Offenders” in Virginia. 

The second is Green County VA Republican candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney, Matthew Hardin who wants no plea deals for “Sex Offenders” in Virginia. When we all know that 95% of cases that end in a conviction in Virginia is settled with a plea because the system cannot support trials for everyone especially in a State with mandatory minimum sentences and no parole, plea deals are the only route. I reached out to Mr. Hardin on Twitter this morning and not only did he say he wants zero tolerance for Sex Offenders but he incorrectly claimed that “Sex Offenders” have a high rate of recidivism. I then educated Mr. Hardin with links https://twitter.com/AttyMattHardin/status/923519478058668032 https://twitter.com/AttyMattHardin/status/923519759727120384  so he could do some much-needed reading if he becomes a Prosecutor in Virginia after the election in November. Since sending him facts to counter his hysteria, he has not replied back. No surprise.

Candidates, current Legislators and even Commonwealth Attorneys regularly make false claims about the recidivism of Sex Offenders in Virginia and no one ever questions them about their false statements. 
 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

50 States: Juvenile Registration as Sex Offenders - Public, Private or Not at All? Revised List as of October 17, 2017


10/23/17 Update: 

After 5 hours of additional research I determined a few States that I originally had noted as having Private Registries but per Impact Justice did not, actually do have them. 

The below list of 50 States has been revised to reflect this confirmed information. 

Mary

 

Original Post:
 
Impact Justice / National Juvenile Justice Network have had a 50 State Juvenile Registration Snapshot that I was intending to compare to my 3-4-year-old 50 State Juvenile List but I just had never gotten around to it, plus I had seen a few errors about Virginia in the Snapshot, I was in no hurry to update my old list. 

But then I was asked by Impact Justice last week to review the VA information in their current Snap Shot as they are planning on an update in the near future. I was very happy to assist them in getting the VA information corrected. 

So today I had the time to compare the data from the 49 other States and Washington D.C. to update my own chart that had taken me weeks to fill out and even then, I was missing New Mexico, New York, North Dakota and Oregon, boy did my chart need updating.  

Halloween 2017 Do’s and Don’ts for Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders


Halloween 2017 is two weeks from today. 

What Can and Can't Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) in Virginia legally do on and around the Halloween holiday? 

Well it depends. 
  • If you or your loved-one are NOT under VADOC Probation supervision see I.
  • If you or your loved-one are currently under VADOC supervision see II.
Finally, will you/ your family possibly be visited by U.S. Marshal’s or the Virginia State Police before, on or after Halloween and what are your obligations? See III.

 

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 16, 2017 Deadline to Register to Vote in Virginia House (and Governor) Election on November 7, 2017



Did you know?
 

Original Post:

On November 7, 2017 all 100 seats in the Virginia House are up for reelection as well as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and many local offices.

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election is October 16, 2017.

Every Virginian is the constituent of one Virginia Delegate (House member) that represents
your home District.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Professor Catherine Carpenter: The Unconstitutionality of Sex Offense Laws


Published on Oct 6, 2017
Professor Catherine Carpenter (Southwestern Law School), a nationally renowned criminal law scholar in the area of sex crimes and sex offender registration laws, came to St. Francis College on September 26 to talk about The Unconstitutionality of Sex Offense Laws.

Her scholarship has been cited by numerous courts and used as a guide by attorneys; she is also one of the foremost authorities on law school curricula and accreditation. Among her important law review articles is, "Against Juvenile Sex Offender Registration."

The lecture was organized by St. Francis College Professors Emily Horowitz and Athena Devlin as part of the Fall 2017 Senior Citizen Lecture Series: Perspectives on American Politics & Policies.

https://www.sfc.edu/news-feed/~post/the-unconstitutionality-of-sex-offense-laws-20171006
https://www.youtube.com/embed/w-ct5YLdRUk

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Myth and the Propaganda of Halloween and Registered Sex Offenders 10 Years of Articles and Research


Halloween is 3.5 weeks away which means news outlets everywhere will begin to run stories and write articles on Halloween Safety and Registered Sex Offenders. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry: Arbitrary Due Dates, Limited Hours of Operation, Certified Letter Must be In-Hand, Photographs and Felonies



It’s mid-September and in my house, that means one thing, what’s my husband’s October work schedule look like for him to meet his legal obligation as a Non-Violent RSO who must re-register once a year in Virginia.

Some people might think, what’s the big deal he re-registers on his birthday easy-peasy, not in Virginia.

In Virginia Per § 9.1-904. RSO’s reregister:
  1. Every 30 days
  2. Every 90 days (not 3 months), the majority of VA’s RSO’s fall into this group.
  3. Every 180 days (not 6 months)
  4. Annually