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Monday, December 5, 2016

Ask Your Virginia Delegate and Senator to Sponsor “Smart” Sex Offender Legislation in 2017!



The 2017 Virginia General Assembly begins in 5 weeks in Richmond Virginia. 

Did you know that “Sex Offender” Bills were the #1, #2 and #3 most requested Bills (Legislation) for 10 out of the last 11 GA sessions? 

Have you asked your Virginia Delegate and Virginia Senator to sponsor a “Smart” Sex Offender Bill for the upcoming session? 

Not sure of what to ask them for?  

Try one of these:
  1. Action Item from April 13, 2016 -   Goal #22: Hate Crime                               http://goo.gl/eJYzBz
  2. Action Item from May 20, 2016 -   Goal #7: Residency Restrictions          http://goo.gl/re29t3      
  3. Action Item from June 3, 2016 -     Goal #9: Teen Sexting                               http://goo.gl/rSS8mX
  4. Action Item from June 7, 2016 –    Goal/Question #17: RSO’s Right to Worship            http://goo.gl/y7tfbq
  5. Action Item from June 14, 2016 – Goal #11: 21-Day Rule AND Goal #16: Add Sexual Misdemeanors to Writs                                              http://goo.gl/Ns4jGs
  6. Action Item from June 29, 2016 – Goal #8: Automatically Remove Non-Violent RSO’s from VSP Registry on 15th  year Anniversary             http://goo.gl/q4MmyF
  7. Action Item from July 28, 2016 –  Goal #12: Move to Rotating Re-Registration System based on RSO’s DOB                                                              http://goo.gl/cjmXFC
  8. Action Item from August 10, 2016 – Goal #4: Scrap the 2-Level Conviction-Based Classification System for a 3 or 4 Level Risk-Based System AND Goal #14: Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses and Juveniles from the Public Virginia Sex Offender Registry  http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  9. Action Item from October 7, 2016 – Goal #3: Verbiage in the “3 day” and “30 Minute” Statute needs to be Amended                                               http://goo.gl/58kDYl
  10. Action Item from October 7, 2016 – Goal #1: Remove Employer Info from VSP Registry http://goo.gl/1Uksjk

Ask your one Virginia Delegate and your one Virginia Senator http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ to sponsor one or two of these pieces of legislation (which ever ones you feel the most strongly about) at the upcoming January 2017 General Assembly session. 

Ask Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office/ to find a sponsor and/or support any of these pieces of legislation at the January 2017 General Assembly session. 

Ask the Virginia ACLU to step up to prevent the yearly slew of “feel good” laws against Virginia’s RSO that are based on zero facts.......... and for them to protect the rights and the Constitution when Virginia Legislators are targeting RSO’s for no reason other than anger, hate or political gain. 

Thank you! 

Mary Davye Devoy

6 Years Ago Today I Wrote a Piece Explaining Why I Advocate for Reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and Laws


6 years ago Today I wrote a Piece Explaining Why I Advocate for Reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry that was printed in the Virginian Pilot.  Sex Offender Registry: The Result of Legislative Predator Hysteria, December 5, 2010:  http://hamptonroads.com/2010/12/sex-offender-registry-result-legislative-predator-hysteria 

It’s not the only piece I’ve written, that’s been written about me or that I’ve been quoted in over the last 8 years of advocacy but I do believe it captures just how broad and how punitive Virginia laws and our VSP Registry has become from it’s original intent. If it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone and I don’t want that to happen. 

My husband and I know how easily anyone can be swept up by these poorly written laws and the broad expansion of our Registry. We know that innocence or proof beyond a reasonable doubt no longer matters when it's a sex crime. I know that the definition of sex crime has also become too broad and the penalties include mandatory minimums with no parole are an impossible fate leaving no options but a plea deal, which then means you've given up all rights to appeal. Sex Offenders are the politician’s career stepping-stones and the public punching bags and we will not sit idly by while they attempt to continue the expansion under false statements, fear-monger and hate. 

But we can use our knowledge and our experience to reform the system that failed us in 2007 and that gets more punitive and more difficult every year when the General Assembly session convenes. 

I hope you will help us help you as the 2017 Virginia General Assembly approaches. When you see an Action Item, please take a few minutes out of your day and send an email or make a phone call to your 2 VA Legislators or to the  Committee members scheduled to hear a Bill in either chamber. 

Thank you for your support. 

Mary Davye Devoy
 

Here are a few other (but not nearly all) articles/editorials I’ve participated in just the last 4 years.
 
Editorial by Mary Davye Devoy
Has Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry Kept Us Safe? July 5, 2015
A program that claimed it would better protect society has been in place for 20 years. We owe it to our citizens to see whether it has done what was promised, is cost effective, whether justice is being served or reforms are needed.

Editorial by Mary Davye Devoy
Campbell: Sex offender bill would stir up angry mobs, February 15, 2015

Roanoke Times Point& Counterpoint Editorial: Does the VA Sex Offender Registry Need Reform?
Part 1- March 31, 2013:
 
Point: Raising fear, to no effect, Mary Devoy


Part 2- April 7, 2013:

Rebuttal: Don’t believe every scary statistic, Mary Devoy
 
Rebuttal: Sex crimes are among the most heinous, Senator Bill Stanley

Va. Lobbyist Works Tirelessly to Soften Sex Crime Laws, March 27, 2012:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Laws that Restrict/Regulate RSO’s that Politicians have Claimed are “Logical and/or Common Sense” to Get Them Passed BUT Have ZERO Evidence /Empirical Data to Support Their Effectiveness…….Unconstitutional!


 
Excellent ruling by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (which is in Richmond, Virginia) for North Carolina RSO’s yesterday!


Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Absurdly Repressive North Carolina Sex Offender Law, December 2, 2016

4th Circuit strikes down North Carolina residency/movement restrictions on sex offenders, December 1, 2016

Appeals Court: Some N.C. sex offender limits unconstituional, December 1, 2016

Fourth Circuit panel rejects North Carolina's efforts to defendant constitutionally hinky provisions of state sex offender rules, December 1, 2016

Breaking: Fourth Circuit holds NC premises statute unconstitutional, December 1, 2016

Cited Radio and CBC Radio The Doc Project’s Two Part Podcast Exiled


Cited Podcast #29: Exiled Part 1 — A Year In New York’s Infamous ‘Sex Offender Motel’ (49:00) w/ recordings from Chris Dum’s (a founding member of Sex Offense Policy and Research www.sopresearch.org ) research for his 2016 book  Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel (Studies in Transgression)
 

Cited Podcast #30: Exiled Part 2 — The Mennonites and the Sex Offenders (59:24) Canada’s Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) Program

January 10, 2017: 3 Virginia Seats to be Decided in Special Election



The day before the 2017 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond there will be 3 Special Elections in Virginia on January 10th to fill 3 State seats that will be vacant because State Representatives were elected in November to go to U.S. Congress. 

The candidates have not all been announced for these 3 elections but one who has come forward is Virginia Delegate Jennifer McClellan. If she does win the Senate seat on January 10th, then her current House seat in the 71st District would be immediately vacated and the Governor would need to schedule a second Special Election to fill it, but it would not be in time for the 2017 GA session. 

McAuliffe sets Jan. 10 special election for McEachin, Garrett, Taylor seats, November 30, 2016

Sheriff's deputy and Virginia Beach teacher running in Jan. 10 special election for state House seat, November 29, 2016

McClellan's path to state Senate clears, McEachin submits resignation on way to Congress, November 22, 2016
 

Special Elections in: 

  • City of Virginia Beach (part)
  • Charles City County
  • Henrico County (Part)
  • Richmond City (Part)
  • Hanover County (Part)
  • Amherst County
  • Appomattox County
  • Buckingham County
  • Cumberland County
  • Fluvanna County
  • Goochland County
  • Prince Edward County
  • Louisa County (Part)
  • Lynchburg City (Part)

If you live in one of these 3 Districts and you have your voting rights you need to participate in the election of your District’s Representative! 

Once the candidates are announced here, learn about them, contact them, introduce yourself and ask them what they think about the current Virginia Sex Offender Registry. 

Have your family and friends who live in these 3 Districts’ of Virginia do the same. 

The majority of Sex Offender restrictions, regulations and mandates are State laws, NOT Federal ones. The members of the Virginia House and Senate are the ones who directly affect your ability to reenter society successfully or not, the ability to participate in your family’s lives or not and who determine the control and monitoring  of your movements, your rights and your VSP registration requirements. 

So, get out and vote on January 10, 2017! 

Mary Devoy

Monday, November 28, 2016

Charles Koch Institute /NACDL Event: A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform in the Commonwealth on December 6, 2016 8:00 am to 11:30am in Richmond Virginia


Charles Koch Institute and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform in the Commonwealth
Date- December 6, 2016
Time- 8:00 am to 11:30am
Admission- Free
Location- Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown 555 East Canal Street Richmond, VA 23219
To Register go to
 

Stakeholders from a variety of viewpoints will gather to examine current criminal justice policies in Virginia. The goal is to identify opportunities to improve safety, lower costs, and examine policies that assist individuals with criminal records. Questions include: Under current law, how well is justice being served? Are there opportunities to improve the system for all? 

Please join the Charles Koch Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a number of distinguished experts for panel discussions about these timely and relevant issues. 

Program
 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Virginia State Crime Commission Presentation - Restitution: Collection Practices and Extension of Probation (2016- HB605)


The Virginia State Crime Commission met for the second time this year back on November 10, 2016, I did not attend this meeting which means I missed the open discussion, questions, additional action items and any idea of which direction (pro or con) that each  presentation  ended on. And since Virginia does not live stream or video record ANY open meetings or even our General Assembly Committee’s.... citizens can not go back to review what was discussed and who appeared to be in favor or opposed what was discussed. 

One of the November 10th presentations that has the PowerPoint online which I found very interesting is Restitution: Collection Practices and Extension of Probation (HB 605) w/ 66 slides. 

This Restitution presentation has a lot of very interesting information. Including court data, facts about our current process, all the current issues (like not being allowed to pay w/ a debit or a credit card), the current amount of restitution in VA being paid and the amount that's delinquent, all the VA Departments / Groups that play a role in our current process, the current penalties for non-payment, what other States do to collect restitution, a recent VA Supreme Court issuance that takes effect this coming February and the 14 VSCC proposals for reform. 

One method listed under “other States collection of restitution” in the presentation is Kiosk machines. I have been proposing Sex Offender Re-Registration Kiosk machines at all VSP locations and local sheriff/police stations for a while. 
 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Being on the VSP Sex Offender Registry Means You /Your Family Can’t Even Mourn in Private


For 8 years I have been contacted by RSO’s, their spouses, their parents, their children, their significant others, their grandparents and even their roommates. I have been told stories of inopportune VSP residency checks that have spoiled birthday parties, graduation gatherings, picnics, Halloween and the list goes on.  

In Virginia the Virginia State Police (the official monitor and manager of Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT incarcerated and who are NOT under VA-DOC Probation supervision) per VA Code must physically verify each Registered Sex Offender’s residence semi-annually (twice a year) and these checks are unannounced. 

Over the last 9 years at my home these checks have been done on weekdays and on weekends, they’ve occurred from 10:30AM to as late as 8:45PM; I keep a list of the day, the time and any specifics that may have occurred. Sometimes we’ve been home, sometimes we haven’t.  

The surprise of these VSP visits immediately takes us back to 2007 and reminds us how my husband who is a Non-Violent RSO really is collateral damage of politicians lowering the burden of proof while raising the penalties because they’ve rewritten our laws under the guise of protecting Virginians from “Sexual Predators” with almost no opposition. Why is he a Registered Sex Offender? Because in May 2007 a neighbor needed to put their elderly and frail dog down and they asked us to help the following week. In an effort to stop that euthanasia the neighbor’s teenage daughter hatched a lie to save her dog. The teenagers plan worked that dog was not put-down and instead her lie made my husband an RSO and me an advocate for reform. 

These VSP residency visits always put a damper on the rest of the day even though the VSP Trooper assigned to him is very professional, courteous and kind. But seeing the VSP Trooper in our driveway or at our front door (sometimes surrounded by our Christmas display) just reminds of the injustice that occurred and how both of our lives (not just his) have been so drastically changed by this public label of shame. Some days the cloud-of-shame is not just mentally draining but physically draining. 

Our second VSP visit for 2016 happened yesterday and it may be the one that hurts the most. Not because the Trooper did anything wrong but the unannounced timing was so incredibly bad. 
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting Ready for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session, it Starts on January 11th



The 2017 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, VA 8 weeks from tomorrow, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 9th 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. 

2017 is an odd-year so we are looking at a Short Session (30 calendar days) as opposed to an even-year, Long Session (60 calendar days). 

Three years back, 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. 

The filing of Bills for the upcoming 2017 session started on July 18th of this year; this is because it’s a Short Session. In a Long Session Bill filing doesn’t start until November. 

As you know this was an election year but NOT for our Governor OR the Virginia House or Senate so there is no inauguration on the horizon OR the swearing-in of new Delegates and Senators to delay the real start of the 2017 session. Short sessions (odd years) are intended to hit-the-ground-running, so they do not follow an election. 

In anticipation of the 2017 G.A. session bills I deleted the 2016 Virginia G.A. page and Committee Member page a few weeks ago. If anyone needs the information posted on that old page I can email it, just let me know. 

By early December I will create a new 2017 Committee page that won’t be finalized until the end of the first week of session AND a 2017 Virginia General Assembly page (see Directory on right side of screen) this is where I’ll post all relevant Bills to this platform. At first the page will only be updated weekly but by the second week of January until the end of session the 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.

 

November 8, 2016 Special Election Results for 2 Virginia House and 2 Virginia Senate Seats


Back on July 13, 2016 and on August 3, 2016 I posted about the vacated State seats that were going to be included on Election Day as a Special Election.
 
1.       Virginia Senate 1st District Seat is now represented by former Virginia Delegate T. Monty Mason -D
2.      Virginia Senate 5th District Seat is now represented by former Virginia Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr. -D
3.      Virginia House 93rd District  Seat is now represented C.E. "Cliff" Hayes, Jr. -D
4.      Virginia House 77th District Seat is now represented Michael P. Mullin-D

In the next few weeks these 4 new members will be assigned to Committees by the Speaker of the House which could include either Courts of Justice Committees which hear the majority of RSO Bills.
 
If you live in one of these Districts that have a new State Representative, be sure to reach out to them via email or phone and introduce yourself as their constituent. Let them know you’ll be monitoring the 2017 General Assembly, what they patron and how they vote. Also be sure to sign up for their email newsletters and if you’re on social media follow them to stay current on their positions and platforms. 

Mary Devoy

November 8, 2016 Election Results for Virginia Congressional Representatives in Washington D.C.


Back on July 13, 2016 I posted about the candidates who were retiring, running or re-running for one of Virginia’s 11 seats in U.S. Congress. 

Two VA Representatives are retiring at then end of 2016 and one Representative lost the June 2016 Primary so that meant Virginia would have a least 3 brand new Congress members for 2017.   

1.       In the 4th District of Virginia where J. Randy Forbes-R lost the nomination during the June 14, 2016 Primary, current Virginia Senator A. Donald McEachin-D won. This means McEachin’s Virginia Senate 9th District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it.
2.      In the 5th District of Virginia where Robert Hurt-R is retiring, current Virginia Senator Tom Garrett-R won. This means Garrett’s Virginia Senate 22nd District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it
3.      In the 2nd District of Virginia where Scott Rigell-R is retiring, current Virginia Delegate Scott Taylor-R won. This means Taylor’s Virginia House 85th District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it.
4.      In the 1st District of Virginia Robert Wittman-R won re-election        
5.      In the 3rd District of Virginia Bobby Scott-D won re-election
6.      In the 6th District of Virginia Bob Goodlatte-R won re-election
7.       In the 7th District of Virginia Dave Brat -R won re-election
8.      In the 8th District of Virginia Donald Beyer -D won re-election
9.      In the 9th District of Virginia Morgan Griffith-R won re-election
10.   In the 10th District of Virginia Barbara Comstock-R won re-election
11.    In the 11th District of Virginia Gerry Connolly-D won re-election 

Of the now 3 vacant State Seats mentioned above only one candidate has come forward to run as of this morning. Current Virginia Delegate Jennifer McClellan will run for McEachin's State Senate seat http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/article_9b6b7f25-ee9b-5dac-b0c2-6907d4cb8692.html . If McClellan wins the Senate seat in the first Special Election of 2017, then her Virginia House 71st District seat will become vacant and a second Special Election would be held in early-2017 to fill it. 

If you live in one of the 3 Districts that have a new US Representative, be sure to reach out to them via email or phone and introduce yourself as their constituent. When their new US Congressional websites go live in January 2017, sign up for their email newsletters. 

AND……………….If you live in one of the 3 State District’s that now has a vacant seat keep a close eye on the upcoming Special Election and when it’s held, go VOTE! 

Mary Devoy

Friday, November 11, 2016

Two Reminders: Today (Veteran’s Day) is one of the Holidays the VSP Locations Close AND 2 Weeks From Now is One of the Two Yearly 4-Day VSP Holiday Stretches Which Can Make Compliance of Virginia Law and Re-Registration Turn-Around Times Extremely Difficult for Virginia’s RSO’s. Don’t Make a Mistake You Could Face a Felony!


Dear Readers, 

Back on July 9, 2015 I posted about the Virginia State Police (VSP) website, VSP Locations (for years I called them Barracks but I was recently corrected by a retired VSP member) hours of operation, VSP Sex Offender Help-Line hours of operation and VSP observed holidays. 

A year and a half later the VSP website still does not post VSP location hours of operation OR observed holidays. Also the VSP locations do not post hours of operation OR observed holidays on their front-doors OR at the main desk.  

The VSP website also does not post the phone number 804-674-2825 OR the hours of operation for the VSP Sex Offender Help Desk (Hotline). Despite my multiple requests directly to the VSP to add this crucial information to their website and locations. 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Grand Challenges: Social Justice and the Need for Evidence-Based Sex Offender Registry Reform By Jill Levenson, Melissa Grady and George Leibowitz

Grand Challenges: Social Justice and the Need for Evidence-Based Sex Offender Registry Reform
By Jill Levenson, Melissa Grady and George Leibowitz

Levenson, Grady and Leibowitz recommend the following significant changes in America’s Sex Offender Registries, all based on evidence:
  1. Juveniles should be dropped from “sex offender” registries –                        Remove All Juveniles from VA’s Registry  Goal #14  http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  2. The length of registration should be guided by risk assessment research-   Goal #4   get rid of VA’s 2-Tiered Conviction Based System and move towards a 3, 4 or 5 Tiered Risk-Based System http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  3. Procedures for relief and removal should be available -                                   Automatic Removal for Non-Violent RSO’s My Goal #8  http://goo.gl/q4MmyF AND Juveniles NOT being “Lifers” in VA, My Goal #14  http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  4. Discretion should be returned to judges                                                               In VA: Eliminate the multitude of “Sexual” Mandatory Minimums AND VA’s law that prohibits a conviction that includes SO registration from being excluded in a plead deal.
  5. Residency restrictions should be abolished-                                                        Abolish VA’s Myth-Based Residency Restrictions My Goal #7 http://goo.gl/re29t3 
The recommendations are based upon several factors, including that while “registries make people feel safer, the data indicate that their actual effectiveness in preventing sexual recidivism is quite weak”. The report also notes that federal government data show that “having to register as a sex offender did not lead to significant reductions in sex offense recidivism”. 

According to the report, the “unique label of sex offender” profoundly obstructs the ability of a registrant to successfully re-enter society due to employment difficulties, housing disruption, relationship loss, threats and harassment as well as property damage. The report also states that registrants often suffer from “psychosocial symptoms” such as shame, stigma, isolation, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Further, these impacts often extend to family members who report “financial, practical, social and psychological effects” as well as threats and harassment by community members and social rejection of children by teachers and classmates.