Monday, November 30, 2015

Kentucky and Virginia the Last States in America to Allow the Automatic Restoration of Voting Rights to Former-Felons and Now Kentucky’s Decided to Exclude RSO’s in Their Latest Reform

Kentucky and Virginia are two of the only states that automatically revoke voter and gun rights for life for those convicted of a felony. 

All other States allow former –felons to vote or own firearms after a specific  time-frame has passed, not forcing them to apply for that right and possibly be denied like Kentucky and Virginia. 

Over the last few years the restoration of rights process in Virginia has become more streamlined and a large number of felons have had their rights restored that is undisputed. 

BUT, the number of former-offenders with sexual convictions who have applied and been denied is high from what I’ve heard from RSO’s who have contacted me. over the years  

There has been legislation proposed at the last few Virginia General Assembly sessions to make the restoration automatic and those proposals have failed. I have monitored them each session looking to see if Virginia RSO’s were being excluded and if that did happen I planned to oppose such a proposal. 

Well, it seems Kentucky’s latest rights-restoration proposal does just that, it excludes those who have been convicted of a sex crime. 

Just like Small Business Loans, HUD Housing, SNAP Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits (federal prohibitions) and Medicare coverage for Viagra (Virginia prohibition) RSO’s are being excluded for automatic voting right restoration. 

The below editorial has been written in response to Kentucky’s new prejudicial exclusion. 

Is Virginia next? 


Opinion: Many 'sex offenders' deserve rights, November 30, 2015
By Jim Schorch

Gov. Beshear’s recent decision to restore voting rights to many felons is an encouraging step toward criminal justice reform. The governor listed a litany of reasons why ‘it makes no sense" to deny opportunities to those seeking to rebuild their lives after serving out their sentences. He cited a key study that those whose rights are restored are less likely to commit another crime. 

Though this signifies a significant policy shift, I am disappointed that the governor’s executive order did not go far enough. He excluded among others, those who commit a "sex-related offense." While this might be overwhelmingly applauded by most, the facts and studies do not support the belief that those convicted of sex offenses are more likely to commit another offense, or that such a population is more dangerous and incurable. 

I do not seek to diminish the pain of those who have endured sexual abuse, as their suffering certainly requires suitable punishment for those who have inflicted such harm. It is true there is a small segment whose risk level is so high as to require restrictive oversight to protect the public and children. Fortunately, we have testing methodologies today that can more accurately assess one’s risk level and predict level of dangerousness.  But these more serious offenders, while often in the spotlight of media coverage, are more the exception rather than the rule. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Galen Baughman an Open Society Foundations Soros Justice Fellow AND a Virginia Registered Sex Offender........ Gives a TEDx Talk on the Issues of Sex Offenders

Are we all sex offenders? November 26, 2015
By Lenore Skenazy

That was the question posed to the audience of mostly college students by Galen Baughman, a Soros Justice Fellow and the final speaker at the City University of New York TEDx talks at the Borough of Manhattan Community College last week.  

TEDx talks are known for introducing new speakers with new ideas on everything from tech, to teaching, to society. But Baughman was the first TEDx presenter to address the issue of sex offenders from an unusual viewpoint:

He is one. And he must register as a sex offender forever.  

Virginia Supreme Court Justices Reject an 11 Month Study to Reform Virginia’s Rules of Discover with Recommendations that Could Eliminate “Trial by Ambush” in the Commonwealth......with a 2-Sentence Long Decision

Readers may remember an Action Item posted back on May 27, 2015 and that Goal #24 of my Legislative Goals is to eliminate “Trial by Ambush” by honoring a defenses motion for discovery. 

Well after an 11-month study by a 29-member group, Virginia’s Justices rejected any reform to our system with a 2-sentence order.  

See today’s article below. It sounds as though the VSP and our Commonwealth’s Attorneys opposition to changing our current system were taken with the most weight in this decision instead of justice being served. 

An “open file” policy should not be on a county-by-county or a city-by-city basis, every court in Virginia should allow the same opportunities to their defendants.

I can say with 100% certainty, Hanover County VA does NOT have an “open file” policy and that allows them to stack-charges and then offer a plea deal with a 5-minute timeframe to take-it or leave-it and if it's no jail-time most folks who don't have thousands of dollars at their disposal to pay for a competent defense team, will take it even when you have no idea what the evidence against them is. Prosecutor -1 , Defendant (and justice being served) -0.

Thank you to all my readers who took the time to send in comments to the VA Supreme Court as directed in the May 27th Action Item. 

Mary Devoy 


Justices reject recommendations on pretrial discovery in criminal cases, November 27, 2015
By Frank Green

Earlier this month, without comment or explanation, the Virginia Supreme Court declined to adopt changes recommended by a committee of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and others after an 11-month study of pretrial disclosure rules in criminal cases. 

The proposals by the Special Committee on Criminal Discovery Rules were aimed at improving pretrial discovery to help make sure pleas are knowingly entered, that trial preparation is not a matter of guesswork and to prevent “trial by ambush” while protecting the privacy and safety of victims and witnesses. 

The two-sentence order from the justices left committee members contacted last week surprised and puzzled. Some were relieved and some, principally defense lawyers, were upset over the outcome and the lack of information about the court’s concerns.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Reminder: This Week is One of the Two 4-Day VSP Holiday Stretches Making Compliance of Virginia Law and Re-registration Turn-Around Times More Difficult for Virginia’s RSO’s, Don’t Make a Mistake You’ll Face a Class 6 Felony!

and the next 3 Days Too!

Back on July 9, 2015 I posted about the Virginia State Police (VSP) website, VSP Barracks hours of operation, VSP S.O. Helpline hours of operation and VSP observed holidays. 

There are 2 sets of 4 day stretches where Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia are unable to register, re-register or change any information even though Virginia law states information changes must be done within 3 days (not 3 business days) or 30 minutes:
  1. Lee-Jackson Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day    (Friday Preceding the 3rd Monday in January and the 3rd Monday in January)
  2. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday (4th Thursday and Friday in November)
#2 is this week! 

If you have any changes that include residence, mailing address, employment, unemployment, vehicle registration, phone numbers, school enrollment, un-enrollment, email addresses or online identifiers  OR your re-registration letter and/or photograph has a due date of 11/26, 11/27, 11/28 or 11/29  (yes certified letters have due dates that include holidays and weekends) there will be no option for you to meet the requirement in Virginia law or your stated due-date deadline because of the 2 upcoming VSP observed holidays and then the weekend. 

Be sure to double check the due date on your certified letter and if it’s the 26th-29th get to a VSP Barracks today or if your re-registration letter has no changes and doesn’t require a photograph get to a U.S. Post Office and mail it back TODAY! 

If you don’t you could be facing a criminal investigation, a Class 6 Felony, attorney’s fees, bail costs, incarceration, probation, court fines/fees, GPS monitoring and your re-registration being increased to every 30-days even if the original conviction that put you on the VSP Registry was a misdemeanor or 15+ years ago. Not to mention loss of employment, housing or family during the entire process.

The burden to jump through the unknown and not-published hoops, hurdles and barriers of compliance falls on your shoulders and that’s why I will try to post about these two 4-Day stretches each year as a reminder to assist you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Mary Devoy

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rebecca Beitsch: States Slowly Scale Back Juvenile Sex Offender Registries. Research shows a child convicted of a sex crime, or an “adjudicated delinquent” in juvenile court, is not likely to commit another sex offense.



So after a few email’s back and fourth with Rebecca Beitsch she says the chart was supposed to distinguish between states that mandate registration for ALL juveniles (online) and states that allow some juveniles not to register but others must register. Having the word "online" for the mandated category and not the “some” juvenile category (like Virginia) is where the disconnect has occurred. It makes it look like Virginia does NOT put juveniles online when they in fact DO, we just don’t mandate ALL juveniles to register. 

Per Ms. Beitsch a revised chart is expected, it should be posted at the below Pew link. 


Original Post:

At the moment the above map has an error with Virginia, it should be orange. 

I have already contacted Rebecca Beitsch alerting her of this issue and sharing my 50-State spreadsheet of private v. public registries for juveniles. 

Hopefully all the outlets that have published this map will get a revised one soon. 

But still a great piece worth reading. 

Mary Devoy 


States Slowly Scale Back Juvenile Sex Offender Registries, November 19, 2015
By Rebecca Beitsch
Research shows a child convicted of a sex crime, or an “adjudicated delinquent” in juvenile court, is not likely to commit another sex offense.

eAdvocate Post: Federal International Megan’s Law Bill HR515 has Been Renamed, Text Gutted and New Text is Pending

Here we go again, AGAIN they changed the name of the bill HR-515 to "International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders" and they consider this a SHORT title.

They also completely gutted the bill and inserted new language, so this is notice of what they have done, not a full review of the bill, we will get to that.

For now click on link above and go to "TEXT" the latest version will appear, then you need to scroll down past what they have gutted to get to the NEW language.

For now have a great day & a better tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Erin’s Law Will Be Coming to Virginia for the 2016 General Assembly Session

Dear Erin Merryn, 

I just read on your Facebook page you have a VA Senator to sponsor Erin's Law at the upcoming 2016 session. 

I fully support sexual abuse prevention education for the children of Virginia. But I do oppose the naming of legislation after a victim; it creates an emotional and biased environment. 

I have two requests to make for your bill in VA. 

1- In Virginia the Age of Consent is on a sliding scale depending on the specific sex act and sometimes there is an age gap allowance and sometimes there isn't. Virginia teens have no idea that consensual sexual contact with other teens is a criminal act because no one teaches about the age of consent. We have  15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds who were in age appropriate relationships and they never forced, threatened or intimated anyone who have been sentenced to incarceration and then lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender. Their lives are over when this occurs, they will never get a college education, they will never have more than just a job, churches turn their back on them, they can't volunteer and finding a spouse to start a family is near-impossible.  Age appropriate relationships should not result in a public label of Sexual Predator, but in Virginia it does. Virginia's landmine of sexual statutes and rules needs to be taught to our teenagers so they can avoid the dire future that our Legislature has created. Could Erin's Law include education on Virginia’s Age of Consent and what age gaps or acts would be criminal, even if consensual? 

2- In Virginia we have had way too many case of Teen-to-Teen Sexting that have lead to criminal charges, threats of incarceration and the possibility of lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender because it falls into the Child Pornography production, possession and distribution category. You can read about some of the VA cases here . Virginia's teenagers per the chart in the link I've provided starting at 10 years of age, need to be taught that Sexting=Child Pornography with dire consequences. Could Erin's Law include education on Sexting being a criminal offense? 

If we are going to educate Virginia’s children on sexual abuse against them by others we need to include what our laws consider sexual abuse by them even when no force, threat or intimation was involved. 

I do hope these 2 suggestions will become goals for your legislation not just in VA this January but for all 49 States because our teens need someone to teach them about these serious issues. 


Mary Davye Devoy 
A volunteer advocate for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry and Laws since October 2008

Sunday, November 15, 2015

From 2011 to 2015 What’s Changed in the Virginia Department of Corrections Annual Report?

A few days back I posted the links to 5 years of VA-DOC Annual Reports. 

Today I read through the 5 years of reports and found some interesting comparisons when I created the above chart.  

Like in 2013 the VA-DOC stopped tracking/publicizing the recidivism rate of “Sex Offenders”  and the number of absconder “Sex Offenders” . But they started counting the number of GPS units on “Sex Offenders”.  

Also when the VCBR (SVP Civil Commitment Facility) was reaching capacity and double-bunking had to be implemented because no Legislator wanted to build a second facility ($$$$$$$) it looks like the “release-rate” of SVP’s went up significantly. 

Another interesting drop is the number of VA-DOC contracts/vendors for Sex Offender Assessment/Treatment. 


19 Harvard Law Professors Write Letter Against the Campus Sexual Assault Documentary “The Hunting Ground” Scheduled to air November 19th on CNN.... Saying “It’s Not a Documentary. It’s Propaganda.”

Professors Dispute Depiction of Harvard Case in Rape Documentary, November 13, 2015
By Cara Buckley

The veracity of one of this year’s most talked about documentaries, “The Hunting Ground,” has been attacked by 19 Harvard Law School professors, who say the film’s portrayal of rape on college campus is distorted, specifically when it comes to their school’s handling of one particular case. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

“Walking While Being an RSO”: A 65 Year Old Chesapeake VA RSO Arrested for Being Near Hickory High School While Walking to the Bank

Now I am not saying this 65 year old Chesapeake RSO wasn’t up to something maybe he was…. but based on the 4 below news articles he didn’t approach anyone, he didn't speak to any students, he wasn’t looking into the school windows, he didn’t attempt to enter the school, he wasn't looking into vehicles and he wasn’t taking photographs.   

He was seen “nearHickory High School and someone decided he was “suspicious” and called the police.  

When the police arrived “they met a man along the side of the road in front of the school”.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Retired Judge H. Lee Sarokin: Every Teenage Boy in America Is a Felon

Every Teenage Boy in America Is a Felon, November 13, 2015
By Retired Judge H. Lee Sarokin

If you are a male living in the United States above the age of 12, raise your hand if you have never looked at, possessed or shared a picture of a naked female (or male). If you have, you may be a felon subject to imprisonment and be required to register as a sex offender. A small town in Colorado (and others elsewhere) are "scandalized" that a group of students have voluntarily exchanged nude pictures of themselves, and prosecutors are discussing the possibility that some may be charged as felons! Yes, posting nude pictures of yourself may be stupid and the pictures can be used or abused in the future, but we cannot allow looking at them, sharing them or possessing them by students to be a crime. 

True, if they were coerced or are used to bully or extort or a thousand other possible scenarios, it may constitute a crime, but not the innocent conduct so far described. In addition to the threat of long prison sentences and registering as sex offenders, the local football game has been cancelled, and parents are outraged that the school has not done more to stop the practice of "sexting"! Yes, why aren't those schools monitoring the cellphones that our children are using? If the schools aren't watching and controlling what our kids are doing on their cellphones, who else is going to do it?  

The differences between today and yesterday are technology and a totally different attitude toward sex. The single faded, black-and-white photo that teenagers huddled around has been replaced by a thousand copies in color made and distributed by cellphones, and nudity no longer provokes gasps. As a parent, I can certainly understand being upset by having your child voluntarily publicize his or her own nude photo. It could be described as foolish and may turn out to be embarrassing, but looking at it, sharing it or possessing it is neither a scandal nor a crime. We allow our children to watch hours of murders, stabbings, shootings, fighting and endless violence on TV or video games, but for some strange reason nudity is the line in the sand. Let's not criminalize teenagers for being teenagers, and let's not impose parenting responsibilities on schools.

Prosecutors in Teenage Sexting Cases Ask: Foolishness, or a Felony? By Erik Eckholm

Prosecutors in Teenage Sexting Cases Ask: Foolishness, or a Felony? November 13, 2015
By Erik Eckholm

The high school sweethearts were 16 when they traded nude cellphone pictures. There was no evidence of coercion or harassment. But under a literal interpretation of North Carolina law, each had distributed child pornography. 

In February, prosecutors in Fayetteville charged the two teenagers with the felony of “exploiting a minor,” which could have brought them years in prison and decades on the sex offender registry — for privately sharing images of themselves. 

Principal Threatens Nine Year Old Florida Boy with Sexual Harassment Charges for Passing Love Notes to Classmate

I just had to post about this situation in Tampa, FL. 

What is happening to our country? 

When did we jump over the line of common sense for normal behavior to threatening, punishing and criminalizing it? 

Thank goodness I was a kid 40+ years ago I couldn’t image having to navigate through today’s madness, overreaction and penalties either as a kid or a parent. 


Fourth grader threatened with sexual harassment charges for writing his classmate a love letter saying her 'eyes are like diamonds', November 12, 2015
·         The nine-year-old boy sent at least two letters to the girl that he likes
·         The notes said she was 'pretty', 'cute' and that he liked her hair
·         When other children started teasing that he wanted to see the girl naked, the principal at the Hillsborough district school started investigating
·         The district said the notes were unwanted and could count as harassment
·         The boy's mother says they were harmless 

9-Year-old Boy Who Passed Love Notes to Girls Threatened with Sexual Harassment Charges, November 12, 2015  

Florida boy, 9, threatened with sexual harassment charges for writing love note, November 12, 2015

Principal threatens sexual harassment charges over 9-year-old’s love note, November 12, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Getting Ready for the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Session: Do You Know Who Your Two Representatives Are? Have You Introduced Yourself to Them? Have You Signed Up to Receive Their Newsletters?

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, VA 9 weeks from today, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 8th 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. 

2016 is an even-year so we are looking at a Long Session (60 calendar days) as opposed to an odd-year, Short Session (30 calendar days).


2 New York 14 Year Old Boys Face Felony Child Pornography Charges and 20 Other Students are Expelled From School for Receiving the Images That They Had No Control Over

 CBS This Morning November 11, 2015 Discussion

Two Long Island Teenagers Charged With Felonies for Producing and Sharing a Video Showing One Them Having Sex With a Girl, November 11, 2015
Twenty other students were suspended for receiving the video on their cellphones.

Showdown looms for parents, principal after school casts wide net in sexting scandal, November 10, 2015

Sexting Arrests, Suspensions Rock Long Island High Schools as Questions Swirl, November 10, 2015

NY Students Suspended, Arrested in Latest Alleged Sexting Ring, November 10, 2015

Some Parents Say Kids Were Unfairly Suspended Kings Park School Sexting Case, November 9, 2015 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Action Item: Teen Sexters are Not Child Pornographers but Yet Virginia Law Doesn’t Differentiate - We Allow Our Prosecutors (Commonwealth Attorneys) to Make the Decision and That Is NOT Working!

This post contains an action item for Virginia AND an action item at the Federal Level, so please be sure to act on both! 

Anyone who pays attention to national news has heard about the Canon City Colorado “Sexting Scandal” over the last few days. 

Some State Supreme and U.S. Supreme Court Cases for Registered Sex Offenders Decided and Pending

In the last 2 weeks I have added some articles to the In the News page that everyone should be aware of so I’m posting their links here so you don’t miss them. 


First Amendment woes in North Carolina, November 10, 2015

[U.S.] Supreme Court will decide whether sex offenders must update status after moving overseas, November 6, 2015

North Carolina's high court upholds ban on registered sex offenders using Facebook, November 6, 2015

Supreme Court: Should Out-Of-State Sex Offenders Be Added To Indiana Registry? November 6, 2015

Indiana Supreme Court to Untangle Sex Offender Registry Riddle, November 5, 2015
Two offenders contend it's unconstitutional to require registration for crimes committed before law was passed

The Fate Of This Sex Offender May Lie In The Hands Of Justice Scalia, November 3, 2015
The justice's hard-line approach to interpreting criminal law may spare a man from a 10-year sentence.

John Oliver Show on HBO: Prisoner Re-entry in America

 November 8, 2015 

The above clip from the John Oliver Show is really worth watching.  


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission Upcoming 2015 Report with Recommendations to Become Law on July 1st 2016

Yesterday I attended the last meeting of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission for 2015; I missed the September 21st meeting.  

Virginia Department of Corrections Annual Report: 2015 Continuing a Balanced Approach to Public Safety Through the Healing Environment

I came across this report last week, Continuing a Balanced Approach to Public Safety Through the Healing Environment June 2015:$file/RD211.pdf . It’s only 23 pages and it has some interesting data about VA-DOC programs, services, issues and costs…...Including Sex Offenders. 

So I went back to see how many years this report has been available.  

Then I found this report:
Report on the Development of Sexually Violent Predator Protocols for Initial Screening per § 37.2-903 (SB314/HB1271, 2012) January 2013$file/HD16.pdf 

All good information to know…… that is……. for those who are interested.