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Friday, February 24, 2017

Monday February 27, 2017 SCOTUS Hears Packingham v. North Carolina – Is it Constitutional for N.C. to Ban Registered Sex Offenders from Social Media Sites?


Next Money February 27, 2017 the US Supreme Court will finally hear Packingham v. North Carolina . 

If the U.S. Supreme Courts voids the North Carolina law then any other State that has a similar law on the books will have to revoke it OR rewrite it if the Supreme Court leaves the door open for a rewrite.  

If the U.S. Supreme Courts upholds the North Carolina law then you can bet your bottom-dollar States across the country will jump on the bandwagon and pass laws doing the same.  
 
Right now the U.S. Supreme Court STILL has only 8 justices instead of the standard 9 that means there is a possibility there could be a tie vote and that happens then the North Carolina's Supreme Court ruling would stand (I think), not the Court of Appeals. 

This is an important RSO case to keep an eye on folks!  

Over the last few months I’ve posted articles on the case in the In the News page

Today the SCOTUS Blog has their preview of this upcoming case and I wanted to be sure to share it with everyone.  

Here it is. 

Mary
 

Argument preview: Court to consider social media access for sex offenders, February 24, 2017
By Amy Howe

In April 2010, Lester Packingham’s traffic ticket was dismissed, prompting him to take to Facebook to celebrate. He posted that “God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? No fine, no court costs, no nothing spent . . . Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!” 

We have no way to know whether any higher powers read Packingham’s Facebook posts. But at least one mortal authority did: a Durham, N.C., police officer who had logged onto Facebook to see whether any registered sex offenders had been using the site. He found the post by Packingham, who had been indicted in 2002 on two counts of statutory rape of a 13-year-old and eventually convicted of taking “indecent liberties of a minor.” Packingham had been sentenced to 10 to 12 months in prison, which the judge suspended, and ordered to register as a sex offender. 

Based on his Facebook post, Packingham was charged with violating a North Carolina law that makes it a crime for a registered sex offender to “access” a “commercial social networking Web site” when he “knows” that it allows minors. Packingham asked the trial court to dismiss the charges, arguing that the law infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, but the trial court declined to do so.  

Packingham was convicted and received a suspended sentence. An intermediate state appellate court overturned his conviction, but the state supreme court reversed that ruling and reinstated his conviction. Last fall the justices agreed to weigh in, and next week they will hear oral argument in his case. 

Defending the law, North Carolina argues that it is an essential part of the state’s ongoing efforts to protect children from sexual abuse. The sex offender registry, which allows the state and the public to track where sex offenders may be living, wasn’t enough, it explains, because sexual predators “became increasingly adept at using social media to gather intimate information about minors’ social lives, families, hobbies, hangouts, and the like. They then used this information to target unwitting victims, either in person or online.” North Carolina emphasizes that the law now before the justices doesn’t actually regulate speech by registered sex offenders. Instead, it just keeps them from accessing social networking sites. In this case, the state observes, Packingham was convicted because he went on Facebook, not because of what he said there. 

Packingham counters that the law still violates fundamental principles of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court, he argues, “has made clear that receiving and ‘gathering’ information are activities fully and independently protected under the First Amendment, not conduct that may be freely regulated and punished.” But this law, in his view, does exactly that, by barring sex offenders from looking at websites the way they would look at newspapers and gathering information from those sites. 

Moreover, Packingham adds, the First Amendment bars the government from punishing someone for conduct that is not criminal just because someone else’s similar conduct could be criminal. Guilt, he contends, “is personal.” But contrary to that principle, the North Carolina law does not require the government to show that a sex offender intended to cause any harm by accessing a prohibited website. “Rather,” he argues, “the law imposes punishment because access could facilitate harm if undertaken by someone with a criminal purpose.” 

It doesn’t matter whether the North Carolina law regulates the content of registered sex offenders’ speech rather than when and where they may speak, Packingham contends, because the law fails even the less stringent test that applies in the latter case. First, the law is not “narrowly tailored,” because it “punishes vast amounts of protected activity to reach the minuscule fraction that implicates the government’s purpose”: It applies not only “to every site colloquially understood to be a ‘social networking website,’” but also to “many others, such as bettycrocker.com, that undeniably satisfy the broad statutory definition.” At the same time, he complains, the law is under-inclusive: The state acknowledged that Packingham would not have run afoul of the law if a friend had posted the same message for him, and the law does not apply to chat rooms or photo-sharing sites, which have “long been recognized as being at the center of online predation.” 
 

Virginia Legislature Gives More Leeway and Consideration for Dogs Than for People Facing Public Registration and Stigmatization


I sent this to a few VA newspapers 2 days ago, I have not heard back so I’m going ahead and posting it today. 

Mary

 
Virginia dogs that bite people or another animal “deserve the benefit of the doubt” according to Delegate Matthew Fariss and the entire Virginia Legislature based on their unanimous votes for 2017’s HB2381 which is now headed to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.  

Delegate Fariss wants fewer dogs to be placed on the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry with this Bill. 

Virginia has an online Dangerous Dogs Registry, something most people aren’t aware of. It was established in 2006.  

Dogs that are declared “dangerous” by Virginia Courts must be reported by the local animal control officers to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then they are posted online.

Unlike the Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, the Dangerous Dog Registry has only had 3 follow-up pieces of Legislation (4 counting Delegate Fariss’) since it was established. Whereas per the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission from 2005 to 2016 the average number of “Sex Offender” Bills proposed at each VA General Assembly is 41.9. 

HB2381  gives local Animal Control Officers the discretion to determine if they think a dog (or cat) should be considered dangerous or not based on “single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury”. 

Currently Animal Control Officers must summon the offending dog’s owner to appear in General District Court for them to explain why their animal should not be considered dangerous. If the court does rule the dog is a danger then the owner has 45 days to obtain a dangerous-dog certificate, Farris’ Bill will reduce that time-frame to 30 days. 

During the House Agriculture Committee debate on HB2381 a representative from the VA Animal Control Association told the Committee membersWe want to be able to give officers that discretion to look at the entire totality of each individual situation”. 

That sounds reasonable, right? 

Every situation, every case, every dog is different and a one-size-fits-all law that sweeps them all together to be publicly listed as “dangerous” will lead to low-risk and even no-risk dogs (and their owners) being wrongly stigmatized. A dangerous dog is going to cause fear and perhaps even hate within the community and we should be certain that’s not happening with dogs who pose no threat, right? 

So why is it that we deny such discretion for people in Virginia? 

In Virginia the majority of crimes against children and sex crimes have mandatory minimum sentences, which allows the Prosecutors to stack charges, to be selective with their plea deals and to usually avoid a trial with more than 94% of criminal cases being settled by a plea. In these cases Virginia judges have no discretion to consider the specific facts of the case or the history and character of the person charged, the minimum sentence is written into Virginia Code our judges are not permitted to give the-benefit-of-the-doubt in cases of a low or a no-risk offender. 

Virginia Code also states that no plea deal for a crime that requires registration as a Sex Offender can include avoiding the registration, it’s mandatory 

People who are charged with a crime against a child or a sex crime in Virginia have no options; there is no flexibility for them or for the judge, only for the Prosecutor. 

For 9 Virginia General Assembly sessions I have opposed myth-based and hate-driven legislation directed towards those who are already on the VSP Sex Offender Registry and for those who will one day be listed. I have been advocating for data-driven laws and to allow discretion in each case, classification and duration of registration and so far no reform has been taken seriously. 

But this year Virginia Legislators have unanimously agreed that dogs deserve the-benefit-of-the-doubt and that each individual situation for dogs should be considered before State registration is deemed appropriate. 

Yet people in Virginia can not and will not be given the same consideration or options that we are about to give to our animals.  

Somehow our priorities and the foundation of justice being served have been flipped in the Commonwealth with 2017’s HB2381.  

So before anyone cheers for the passage of HB2381 ask yourself why Virginia’s Legislators have intentionally made it impossible for people to get fair and balanced consideration when accused of a “heinous act” but they all believe latitude is needed for dogs.
 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reason.com / Reason Magazine April 2017 Issue- Sex and Kids by Jacob Sullum and American Sex Police by Elizabeth Nolan Brown


I really want to post Jacob Sullum’s latest article Sex and Kids from Reason.com but for the moment it’s only available with a Reason.com subscription so if I post it I may face legal repercussions.
 
Once April begins the article may be posted for free on their website but for anyone who has a Reason.com subscription I recommend reading it if not Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s article American Sex Police too.
 
Mary 

Sex and Kids, April 1, 2017
The unjust, irrational, and unconstitutional consequences of pedophilia panic
http://reason.com/archives/2017/04/01/sex-and-kids
 
American Sex Police, April 1, 2017
With sweeping trafficking stings, the FBI returns to its roots as the nation's vice squad.
http://reason.com/archives/2017/04/01/american-sex-police

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Action Item- Virginia HB1559-Delegate Paul Krizek Special Identification Cards for Person 70 Years of Age or Older Has Been Amended by Transportation Committee to Limit Those Who are on the VSP Sex Offender Registry

 
 
A bill that originally had nothing to do with Registered Sex Offenders was amended back on 01/16/17 by the House Transportation Committee to include them. 

HB1559- Patroned by Delegate Paul Krizek was originally increasing the fee and extending the time before expiration from 7 to 8 years for Virginia Special Identification Cards (for Person 70 Years of Age or Older who do not have a Driver’s License) under §§ 46.2-333.1 and 46.2-345.  

Then on 01/16/17 the House Transportation Committee amended HB1559 and I was not aware of the change until today but it’s already passed through both chambers.  

The amendment is: 

C. Every special identification card shall expire on the last day of the month of birth of the applicant in years in which the applicant attains an age exactly divisible by five applicant's birthday at the end of the period of years for which a special identification card has been issued. At no time shall any special identification card be issued for less than three nor more than seven eight years, except under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1 and except that those cards issued to children under the age of 15 shall expire on the child's sixteenth birthday, thereafter the special identification card may be renewed on or before the last day of the month of birth of the applicant and shall be valid for five years, expiring in the next year in which the applicant's age is exactly divisible by five, except under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1. Notwithstanding these limitations, the Commissioner may extend the validity period of an expiring card if (i) the Department is unable to process an application for renewal due to circumstances beyond its control, (ii) the extension has been authorized under a directive from the Governor, and (iii) the card was not issued as a temporary special identification card under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1. However, in no event shall the validity period be extended more than 90 days per occurrence of such conditions. Any special identification card issued to a person required to register pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1 shall expire on the applicant's birthday in years which the applicant attains an age equally divisible by five. For each person required to register pursuant to Chapter 9 of Title 9.1, the Department may not waive the requirement that each such person shall appear for each renewal or the requirement to obtain a photograph in accordance with subsection C of § 46.2-323.
 
 

So per this 2017 Bill which has passed through both the Virginia House and Senate and is headed to the Governor to be signed into law……..any 70+ year old Registered Sex Offender who does not have a drivers license and needs a Special Identification Card MUST somehow (they don’t have a drivers license) make it into a DMV location in the month of their 70, 75, 80, 85 and 90 birthdays. Unlike the rest of the senior citizens in Virginia who can renew both online or through the mail and their cards are valid for 8 years.  

This 2017 change is similar to the change made back in 2008 (before I became an advocate) when HB534- Patroned by Delegate Bobby Mathieson (he’s now a U.S. Marshal in Hampton Roads) when the House Transportation Committee increase Virginia Driver’s Licenses lifespan from 5 years to 8 years and to encourage online or postal renewals they added a DMV-location visit fee, EXCEPT if you are on the VSP Sex Offender Registry. Any RSO”S driver’s license is only valid for 5 years and they are required to renew in-person at a DMV location which includes the additional fee.  

In the last 6 years there have been multiple “Sex Offender” Bills or amendments that have gone through the House and Senate Transportation Committees, it seemed like a new theme for them, I will have to do a better job at monitoring those Committees too.  

If anyone wants to join me in asking Governor McAuliffe to amend HB1559 before signing it to allow any Registered Sex Offender who can not drive to submit a letter from their doctor stating this so that they can renew through the postal mail or online I would appreciate it.  

Here is a sample message for anyone unsure of what to ask for.  

Dear Governor McAuliffe,  

2017’s HB1559-Delegate Krizek is headed to your desk.  

The House Transportation Committee added an amendment on January 16th that has remained in the Bill which doesn’t take into account the age, mobility and/or health of those it is directed towards.  

The amendment to section C states that anyone on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry must renew their Special Identification card (for Person 70 Years of Age or older) every 5 years instead of every 8 years AND that they are NOT permitted to do so online OR through the mail.  

These Virginians are 70+ years old and they need these cards because they do NOT drive. Many of them probably don’t make it out much except to the doctor’s office where they would need to show identification along with their Medicare or Insurance card. But the Virginia Legislature has mandated they go in-person to a DMV location to renew their cards AND they’ve decided that it will be valid for 37% less time than other cards.  

I understand that Virginia Drivers Licenses for Registered Sex Offenders also mandate in-person renewal at a DMV location and that they too expire 37% sooner than other Virginians Drivers Licenses, but the citizens who need these Special Identification Cards don’t drive and could be in poor health. This Bill prohibits them from renewing through the US mail or online with the help of a family member, this is truly pointless.  

Please amend HB1559 to allow any VSP Registered Sex Offender who can not drive to submit a letter to DMV from their doctor stating that they are unable to travel to a DMV location every 5 years and allow them to renew either through the mail or online like everyone else.  

Thank you very much.  

Sincerely,  

________________
  

Submit your amendment request to the Governor here:

Thank you  

Mary Davye Devoy


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stafford Virginia Teen Faced 350 Years in Prison for Receiving 5 Sext's, But Will Get Life on the VSP Registry


Update:
A Letter from the Father of the Teen Sentenced to Life as a “Violent Sexual Offender” for Online Relationship, February 20, 2017
http://www.freerangekids.com/a-letter-from-the-father-of-the-teen-sentenced-to-life-as-a-violent-sexual-offender-for-online-relationship/
 

Original Post:

Dear Virginia Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Public Safety Moran and Virginia Delegates and Senators, 

Good evening. 

I have some issues with the below article, like the State Police stating a  Violent RSO can petition for removal after only 3 years on the VSP Registry is 100% non-sense, if someone from the VSP actually claimed that falsehood in a letter they need to be released of their position immediately. It’s a fact 85% of Violent Registered Sex Offenders are “Lifers” in Virginia, the rest must wait until 25 years has passed before they can petition, but let’s move past that part for the moment. 

Asst. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Frank has prosecuted now 19 year old Zachary for the images he received when he was 17 years old from a 13 year old he never met in person and who was in her underwear, NOT nude. 

Zachary was charged with 20 felonies in Stafford, VA that came with a possible sentence of 350 years in a Virginia prison. 

Asst. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Frank offered Zachary a plea deal of only 2 counts of indecent liberties w/ a minor for which he will become a Violent Registered Sex Offender, for life. 

Zachary has been evaluated by 2 psychologists and there is no evidence he is a danger to society. 

He is sitting in jail at this moment awaiting his sentence on March 9th. 

Speaker Bill Howell has written a letter supporting Zachary and stating registration as a Violent Sex Offender for life is not warranted, I could not agree more.

But then I would ask all of you, whom I have been asking for the last 9 years to make a provision to exclude Teen Sexting from VA’s Child Pornography statutes because every Virginia C.A.’s prosecutorial discretion is not up to par why is this one young mans case worthy of the Speaker of the Houses intervention but all the others haven’t been?

In the defense of MANY truly absurd Bills over the last 9 years I’ve heard many of you say “if it saves just one child, it’s worth it”. Yes, Speaker Howell has taken action over rhetoric but cases like this shouldn’t be piecemealed, there is a glaring problem with Virginia law and it’s finally time to take action. 

1. Zachary does NOT belong on the VSP Sex Offender Registry, period. 

2. All of Asst. Commonwealth Attorney Ryan Frank’s cases and plea deals need to be reviewed by the Stafford County Commonwealth Attorney and if there are any other Teen Sexting cases take them away from Mr. Frank.

3. If someone within the VSP sent a letter claiming after only 3 years on the VSP Registry Zachary would be allowed to petition the court for removal when VA law clearly says otherwise, they need to be disciplined and counseled in VA law this week. 

4. It's time to stop prosecuting  Teen Sexting as a crime in Virginia if no threat, force, intimidation, extortion or mass-publication has occurred.

Mary Devoy
 

Teen Girl Sent Teen Boy 5 Inappropriate Pictures. He Faced Lifetime Registry as a 'Violent Sex Offender' or 350 Years in Jail.
Welcome to the world of teens, computers, and prosecutors who want to look tough on sex offenders.

Book: Sexual Violence: Evidence Based Policy and Prevention by Elizabeth L. Jeglic & Cynthia Calkins - 95% of US Sex Crimes Last Year, This Year and Next Year Will be by Someone Who is NOT Listed on a Sex Offender Registry


Yesterday when I returned home from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee hearing I decided to start reading a book. I had 2 sitting on my desk and 3 more on order; I chose this one Sexual Violence: Evidence Based Policy and Prevention Edited by Elizabeth L. Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins (http://sorl.org/) with more than 20 contributors https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3319445022/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 

How timely it was to pick this book. 

Everything I had been telling and emailing Virginia Delegates and Senators for the last 2 months about Residency Restrictions was in this book, with all the stats to back it up. 

Since December I’ve been opposing a set of Companion Bills (HB1485 / SB1072) that was proposed by the Virginia State Police (VSP) which would retroactively expand the Virginia statues for Registered Sex Offender (RSO) proximity for residency and loitering to out-of-state, federal, military and tribal convictions going as far back as 2000. Not only did the VSP want to expand upon VA’s residency restrictions which all SO researchers have concluded is a failed social experiment but the VSP requested theses two Bills knowing that without including a conviction date of July 1, 2017:

  • The VSP will be applying the new law retroactively which means some current RSO’s residences that are legal today would become a felony on July 1st 2017, actually making some people homeless.
  • The VSP refuses to give advance notice of the change in the loitering law that would take effect on July 1, 2017 so people who are currently legally allowed to drop off their children w/in 100 ft of the school property line or athletic field will be arrested for a felony later this year or next. 
This book supports multiple Legislative proposals I’ve made over the last 9 years including eliminating our residency restrictions, moving towards a risk-based classification system and the State supporting a successful reintegration for RSO’s back into our communities which includes employment, housing and family participation BECAUSE it actually lowers the rate of recidivism meaning “no new victims” and that’s what the Legislature should be striving towards. 

Plus:
  1. 1 out of 181 males in the U.S. is a Registered Sex Offender.
  2. The recidivism rate of “Sex Offenders” is not the popularly claimed 100%, it’s actually 5%.
  3. Of those Registered Sex Offenders who do recidivate, it’s more often a non-sexual offense, than a sexual one.
  4. The recidivism rate of Registered Sex Offenders declines the longer they are released, after 10 years its cut by half, that would be 2.5%.
  5. Registered Sex Offenders who receive treatment after conviction have a significantly lower rate of recidivism than those RSO who don’t receive treatment.  Upending the popular political claim that “Sex Offenders” can’t be treated. They CAN!
  6. The majority of legislation claimed by lawmakers to prevent sexual violence is aimed at released “Sex Offenders” and reactionary laws are NOT evidence-based.
  7. Sex Offender Registries and laws are targeted at stranger-danger but only 15.6% of sex-crimes are committed by a stranger, 84.4% are committed by an acquaintance.
  8. Of the sex-crimes that will be convicted this year and next year, 95% are by someone who is NOT listed on a Sex Offender Registry.

And that’s just the first quarter of the book. 

This book is expensive but if you’ve waited to read a a book that covers many of the RSO issues that I’ve been raising for years I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This book is going in my Top 15 List. 

I look forward to finishing it and I anticipate a recommendation to all the Virginia Delegates and Senators once the GA session has ended. It certainly won’t be my first recommendation to them. Maybe one day they will take the time to read up on the issue that they all so easy grand-stand upon and they’ll learn that what they’ve been claiming all these years is not only false but is doing more harm than good. 

Mary Devoy
 
 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Action Item HB1485 Scheduled to be Heard by the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday February 13 at 8:00AM


02/13/17 10:00AM Update: 

Within the first 4 minutes of this mornings Senate Courts of Justice Committee all similar and Companion Bills were addressed by the Chairman with no speakers/testimony being heard.
 
This included HB1485 it was amended to conform (match) what the Senate Committee had previously done to SB1072 , a grandfather-clause was added for residences established prior to July 1, 2017 this way no ones current residence becomes a felony this July.  

Then the Courts Committee sent HB1485 to the Senate Finance Committee, that’s where SB1072 “died” last month. Let’s pray the same happens to HB1485 and this is all over for 2017. 

Mary
 

Original Post:

Virginia Bill HB1485 –Delegates Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn is scheduled to be heard by the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday February 13 at 8:00AM. 

This is the LAST opportunity in the Virginia General Assembly process for the public to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ the Bill. 

Before Monday morning please call or email the members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (contact information is below) and ask them to either “kill” HB1485 as they previously did with SB1072 (the same proposal) that came before them in January OR add 2 amendments. 

Here is a sample email for anyone who needs it:
 

Subject Line: Monday’s Senate Courts of Justice Meeting HB1485
 

Dear Virginia Courts of Justice Senators, 

My name is _________ and I am contacting you because HB1485-Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn is on your Monday February 13th docket. 

HB1485 is the House version of SB1072 that ‘died’ in Senate Finance back on January 31, two steps that the House failed to take with this Bill. I hope the Senate Courts of Justice Committee will take the same action with HB1485 on Monday but if not please continue reading. 

There are serious issues with HB1485 that could be corrected with two simple amendments. 

As currently drafted HB1485 the State Police will retroactively apply the loitering, the residency and the employment changes. The employment portion is reasonable but the other two sections are not and will result in arbitrary felonies for citizens who have no intent of committing a crime. 

Issue #1: 

18.2-370.3. Sex offenses prohibiting residing in proximity to children 

If a conviction-date of July 1, 2017 OR a grandfather-clause for residences established prior to Jul 1, 2017 is NOT added to HB1485 the State Police will apply it retroactively which means  some citizen’s current homes will become felonies on July 1, 2017 and they will become homeless. 
 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Action Item: HB1485 on Virginia House Floor Calendar Today (February 6) for Second Reading, Uncontested Calendar – Ask for Floor Amendment!

Update: 

On February 7, 2017 HB1485 was listed in the House Floor Calendar under “Regular Calendar, Third Reading”, no longer as “Uncontested” on page 68. 

The first half of the “Regular Calendar, Third Reading” Bills were discussed a bit by members then the second half were simply voted on, that’s what happened to HB1485 yesterday. No discussion, no debate, just a forward vote. 

The video of yesterday House session is now available online as an archive, before this year watching a floor video after it occurred was not an option http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 . Advancing through the video isn’t as easy as it should be but I found HB1485 at 1:18:30 of the video for anyone who is interested. 

The vote yesterday for HB1485 to pass out of the Virginia House was 95-1. 

YEAS--Adams, Aird, Albo, Anderson, Austin, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Boysko, Bulova, Byron, Campbell, Carr, Cline, Cole, Collins, Cox, Davis, Dudenhefer, Edmunds, Farrell, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Hayes, Head, Helsel, Heretick, Herring, Hester, Hodges, Holcomb, Hope, Hugo, Ingram, James, Jones, Keam, Kilgore, Knight, Kory, Krizek, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Levine, Lindsey, Lingamfelter, Lopez, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, McQuinn, Miller, Minchew, Miyares, Morris, Mullin, Murphy, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Plum, Pogge, Poindexter, Price, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Sickles, Simon, Stolle, Sullivan, Torian, Tyler, Villanueva, Ward, Ware, Watts, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker--95.  

NAYS--Rasoul--1 

ABSTENTIONS--0 

NOT VOTING--Fariss, Morefield, Toscano--3 

It now heads to the Virginia Senate Courts for Justice Committee and I will be there to ask for the same two amendments that I asked that Committee to add to the Senate version. 

Mary Devoy
 

Original Post:

Back on Wednesday February 1st HB1485 was a last-minute/same-day addition to the House Criminal Su-Committee. Both the House Criminal Sub-Committee on February 1 and the Full House Courts Committee on February 3rd failed to add the grandfather-clause that the Virginia Senate had added to the Companion Bill before it died.   

The Virginia House held a floor session on Saturday February 4th (because tomorrows Cross-Over Day) even though I looked for a Floor calendar that very morning and could not find but now it’s posted online http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+cal+CAL , a bit late for citizens who are following Bills. 

So today’s House Floor Calendar has HB1485 listed as Second Reading, Uncontested Calendar http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+cal+HC10206 . 

If a Virginia Delegate doesn’t ask for it to be removed from the Uncontested Calendar and a floor amendment (grand-father clause) to be added then it will be sent to the Virginia Senate late this week as-is, which means some current RSO’s homes would become felonies this July if the Senate fails to amend it in the next 2 weeks. 

Let's NOT wait for the VA Senate to take action, ask the House to fix this Bill TODAY!

Those of you have previously taken action on this proposal, thank you so much and I hope you will do again so today. Those of you who haven’t because this Bill doesn’t affect you our your loved one needs to seriously consider that if THIS retroactive application becomes law on July 1st 2017 then Virginia Legislators are going to feel empowered to broaden this law again and again. And when those proposals are made in 2018 or 2019 your old conviction or your loved-ones old conviction COULD be included and that future Bill could make your home a felony will you care then? The point is, you should care now. 
 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Update on HB1485 Patroned by Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn – The Virginia House Courts of Justice Criminal-Sub AND Full Committee Failed to Add Grandfather Clause So Homelessness for Some is Inevitable


The below was emailed to all 99 (currently 1 seat is vacant) Virginia Delegates (House members) at 8:10AM on February 4, 2017. 

Dear Virginia Delegates,

On Wednesday February 1st HB1485 was a last minute addition to that day’s Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee’s docket. Its Senate Companion SB1072 had died earlier in the week in Finance after correctly having a grandfather –clause added. So I advised the House Courts Committee members of the necessary grandfather-clause hoping they’d take action on February 1st, they did NOT. 

As originally written and as currently written the State Police, the 3 Bill Patrons and the Full Courts of Justice Committee members have ALL approved the retroactive application of Residency and Loitering restrictions against currently Registered Sex Offenders who moved to Virginia 5, 10 and 15 years ago. They have refused to add a grandfather clause for residences established prior to July 1, 2017 which WILL result in some citizens current homes becoming felonies this coming July. An unknown number of Virginians who are compliant today, with a home, a job, family support and are paying taxes will be facing new felony charges from the State Police and will be forced to move and or become homeless. Such a cruel and unconstitutional application of Virginia law does NOT make our communities safer but actually makes them less safe. 

The State Police, the 3 Patrons and the Courts of Justice Committee members are all AOK with forcing former-offenders who are all obeying current Virginia law onto the streets. A homeless, jobless Sex Offender is more likely to commit a new offense (creating new victims) than a Sex Offender who is stable with a roof over their head. 

In my 9 years as a volunteer advocate at the annual General Assembly session who is only asking for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Laws and Registries I have witnessed extreme and incorrect claims/stances by Virginia Legislators against those listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry because they are an easy target to take your anger and hate out on them but intentionally making their current residences  felonies which will lead to homelessness takes the cake. 

This is what happens when politics interferes with policy. Hate, anger, prejudice and vengeance become more important than facts. 

I can only hope that one Delegate reading this will offer up a grandfather-clause on the House floor but I won’t hold my breath because I know if they do another Delegate will counter their amendment with a fear-mongering anti-Sexual Predator speech.  

I continue to ask myself when will the Virginia Legislature stop the “Sex Offender” rhetoric and finally look at the last 20 years of data and evidence that I continue to provide, I pray it doesn’t take another 9 years. 

Sincerely, 

Mary Davye Devoy