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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Legislative Goals for a Smarter Sex Offender Registry in Virginia


Originally I had 28 Legislative Goals, now I’ve settled on 13. 

A few more mat follow over the next week but these http://goo.gl/k0O5Vu  are my priority. 

I hope you’ll pick one or two and ask you Virginia Delegate or Senator before mid-November to patron one in January 2018. 

This is what I’ll be working on from May until after this November election for the Virginia House.

Mary Devoy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

HB1485: Virginia’s Residency Restrictions and Loitering Laws for Those Listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry


Update:

Well thank goodness; VA Senator Deeds was honest about where 2017’s HB1485/SB1072 actually came from, the Virginia State Police! Unlike Delegate Dickie Bell’s “constituent” claim. 

If you patron a Bill, own where it came from, what the true intent was, what the collateral consequences are and how about who raised the alarm on it's issues.

Mary 

McAuliffe signs sex offender bill, March 22, 2017
New law expands qualifying offenses
 

Original Post:

I’m still working on revising the Legislative Goal page, but everyday I wind up working on a post or two because of the revisions I’m making. 

Today I was gathering all the past legislation that has been proposed to expand Virginia’s Residency Restrictions and Loitering Laws since I became a volunteer advocate (the list is at the very bottom) even though I routinely share all the research with those same lawmakers but they continue to propose expansion anyway. 

Now that 2017’s HB1485 has been signed by the Governor McAuliffe and becomes law on July 1st, Delegate Dickie Bell is out touting his “big win” to news outlets, with a press release. 

·         Out-of-state sex offenders get tighter Va. Regulation, March 21, 2017 http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2017/03/21/out--state-sex-offenders-get-tighter-va-regulation/99442372/
·         Governor signs Delegate Bell's House Bill 1485, March 21, 2017
http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Governor-signs-Delegate-Bells-House-Bill-1485-416782193.html
·         Governor McAuliffe Signs Sex Offender Bill, March 21, 2017
                        http://wsls.com/2017/03/21/governor-mcauliffe-signs-sex-offender-bill/
·         Governor McAuliffe Signs Sex Offender Bill Patroned by Dickie Bell, March 20, 2017
·         McAuliffe signs sex-offender legislation patroned by Bell, March 20, 2017

So I’ve decided to share more details about where HB1485 came from and what Delegate Bell claimed to know and not know about it when we spoke on the phone back on December 20, 2016. 

Delegate Bell has publically claimed he had a "constituent" who came to him about HB1485. 

Well that’s not totally accurate; the “constituent” was a Virginia State Police Investigator. 

From the phone call on December 20, 2016 Delegate Bell told me the VSP Investigator’s original intent with HB1485 was to ban Registered Sex Offender's from all Virginia libraries because the Investigator told him there was an RSO that was “hanging around” the children’s section of the Bristol library. I then advised Delegate Bell that Virginia’s Loitering law does NOT include libraries, so HB1485 would do nothing to change that situation.  

I then advised Delegate Bell I opposed SB384 back in 2014 that was intended to ban RSO’s from Virginia Libraries which was a request by a Commonwealth’s Attorney in Senator Reeves' district. I advised Bell that in 2014 I opposed SB384 in its original form and in its amended forms because in the end it was a ban and that was ruled unconstitutional by the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

So Delegate Bell then told me the VSP Investigator advised him that Virginia needed to “align with Federal Code” and that HB1485 would get us there. 

I then explained to Delegate Bell that I’m well versed in Federal Code for “Sex Offenders” it’s the Adam Walsh Act 2006 also known as SORNA which does NOT have loitering or residency restriction for “Sex Offenders”. Then that there were some pending Bills in Washington for employment of RSO’s with children, but they had not become Federal law at that point. So on the second claim by the VSP Investigator on what HB1485 would do, he was wrong again, or perhaps he had lied to the Delegate or perhaps the Delegate wasn’t being truthful with me. Which option was it? I had been given  2 reasons for HB1485 that were NOT true and I had to make sure these false claims did not spread as fact in an attempt to get public support or Legislature support for this Bill and any Companion version that may pop up at session. 

So 8 days later I sent an email to all the Virginia Legislators advising them of the intention of the Bill, the false claims and the collateral consequences, that’s when Delegate Dickie Bell sent me a scathing email saying he would not take any action to help me get the Bill amended. I hadn’t expected any assistance to begin and as January turned into February I knew my 12/28/16 email was the right thing to do. 

You see on the December 20th call with Delegate Bell I asked him if he understood that by NOT having a conviction date of July 1, 2017 in his Bill, that the Virginia State Police would apply HB1485 retroactively. I also advised him  if that was to occur those people who had established their homes years ago would now be committing a felony. That as of July 1st they would either need to move out of their home and if that wasn’t an option they could become homeless. 

I asked Delegate Bell if these collateral consequences were intended and he said no. So I had asked him to add a conviction date of July 1, 2017 so no one would lose their current home and he advised me he’d share my many concerns (which he asked me to send in an email and I did) with the VSP Investigator. 

But yet when HB1485 made it to the House Courts Criminal-Sub Committee on February 1st (a hearing I couldn’t make http://goo.gl/Fegc8w  http://goo.gl/Uq52Q8 ) no amendment was made by Delegate Bell or by the VSP Representative to avoid current residences from becoming felonies this July. No grandfather clause was added even though I had gotten one added 2 weeks earlier to the Companion version (SB1072) in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, much to the dismay of the VSP Representative. 
 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Virginia State Police Allocates 173% More Hours Each Year to the VCheck Firearm Program than for RSO’s to Be Able to Register, Re-register and Update Data Changes to Avoid a Felony



Hours of operation, the ability to access the Virginia State Police is what this post will be about.
 
Of Virginia’s 22,588 (October 2016 count) Registered Sex Offenders 40% are incarcerated, 20% are under VA-DOC supervision and 40% are under Virginia State Police supervision. So that’s 60% that must re-register every 30, 90, 120 or 365 days each year. Plus anytime the RSO moves, changes jobs, enrolls or un-enrolls in school, buys or sells a vehicle or deletes or create san email address they must go in-person to a Virginia State Police location within either 3 days (not business days) or 30 minutes (for email and Instant Messenger) per Virginia law. 

Some RSO’s might go to their local police or sheriff’s office for VSP Registry changes but experience has taught most RSO’s that’s a risk with a possible felony punishment. Registration paperwork has been known to take forever to get from a local authority to the VSP or it has been lost all together, so most VA RSO’s go directly to the VSP. 

60% of the RSO population that utilizes the VSP locations is 13,177 people. The majority of those people must re-register 4 times per year (every 90 days) but some do so through the mail 2 or 3 of those 4 times. But then there are those data changes and in the last 10 years we’ve personally learned that averages one visit per year and yet we’ve never changed our residence or employment and most RSO’s do. 

So let’s go with a very conservative average of 2 visits to a VSP location per year for the 13,177 RSO’s. 

A VSP Trooper or VSP employee spends an average of 20 minutes with each RSO who comes in to re-register or update their data. 

That works out to be  26,354 visits per year to a VSP location by Virginia RSO’s at 20 minutes each that’s 8,784 hours in 2015 was needed to manage all the Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia. 

The VSP location hours average around 8:30AM to 4PM weekdays only. They are not open evenings, weekends or on holidays*. The VSP SO Hotline (804) 674-2825 is available 8:15AM to 4:45PM weekdays only. No evenings, weekends or on holidays*. 

* VSP holidays include:
·         The 4, 3-day holidays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day) per year.
·         The 2, 4-day holidays (Lee-Jackson/MLK weekend and Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend) per year.
·         Plus the possibility that Christmas, New Years Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day could land on a Friday or Monday OR if they land on a Saturday or a Sunday then either that Friday or Monday will be taken as a holiday. That’s 4 more possible 3-day weekends, per year. 

Now, the Virginia State Police is in charge of running all criminal background checks for all Virginia Firearm Sellers, that program is called VCheck. 

Let’s compare how accessible the Virginia State Police is for 60% of our Sex Offender population versus Virginia Firearm Sellers. 

VSP VCheck is available from 8AM to 10PM, seven days a week, including holidays, except for December 25. Plus an 800-telephone line is utilized as an alternate method should a firearms dealer lose Internet connection or experience problems with his or her computer. 

Apples to apples? 
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available 6.5 more hours everyday than the VSP locations are for RSO’s.
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available every weekend, with 52 weekends that’s 104 additional days per year that VCheck is available but not the VSP locations for RSO’s.
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available every holiday, except Christmas. That’s 11 VSP observed holidays that VCheck is available but the VSP locations are not for RSO’s.
·               Virginia State Police VCheck is available 14 hours per day for 364 days every year.
·               Virginia State Police Locations for RSO’s is available (depending on the location) 7.5 hours per day for 248 days per year. But as most RSO’s have learned over the years the VSP Trooper or employee manning the SO duties might be on lunch break so you wait for them to return.
·               Virginia State Police is available for 5,096 hours per year to the VCheck Program.
·               Virginia State Police is officially available for 1,860 hours per year (assuming all 7.5 hours of operation, there is an available employee) for Registered Sex Offenders to register, re-register and change any data that’s required by law.  

The Virginia State Police gives 2.7 times more hours of operation per year for the VCheck Program than they do for Virginia Registered Sex Offenders to comply with VA law. 

50 States: Juvenile Registration as Sex Offenders - Public, Private or Not at All?


No Registration for Juveniles:

  1. Alaska
  2. Connecticut
  3. Hawaii
  4. Nebraska
  5. West Virginia
  6. District of Columbia
State that have Private (Authorities Only) Registries:
  1. Arizona                           for Tier/Level 1 AND some Juveniles
  2. Arkansas                        for some Juveniles
  3. Colorado*                   for Juveniles
  4. Delaware                     for Tier/Level 1
  5. Idaho                           for Juveniles
  6. Illinois                         for Juveniles
  7. Maryland*                  for Juveniles
  8. Massachusetts             for Tier/Level 1 AND 2’s AND some Juveniles
  9. Michigan*                   for Juveniles
  10. Minnesota                   for Tier/Level 1 AND 2’s AND Juveniles
  11. Nevada*                        for Tier/Level 0 AND 1’s
  12. New Hampshire           for Tier/Level 1 AND Juveniles
  13. New Jersey                  for Tier/Level 1 AND some 2’s AND some Juveniles
  14. New York                     for Tier/Level 1 AND Juveniles
  15. North Carolina             for Juveniles
  16. Oklahoma*                     for Juveniles
  17. Pennsylvania*              for Juveniles
  18. Rhode Island                for Tier/Level 1 AND Juveniles
  19. Tennessee*                  for Juveniles
  20. Vermont                           for Juveniles until age of 18 then placed on Internet
  21. Wisconsin                     for Tier/Level 1 AND 2’s AND Juveniles
  22. Wyoming*                    for Juveniles 
State has Automatic Removal from Registry for Juveniles:
  1. New Hampshire               at age 17
  2. Idaho                                  at age 21
  3. Maryland*                         at age 21
  4. Missouri                         at age 21         (for some)
  5. Oklahoma *                       at age 21
  6. Arizona                               at age 25
  7. Texas                                  at 10th year OR end of jurisdiction which ever comes first
State allows a Court Petition for Removal from Registry for Juveniles:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

In the Last 9 Years the Virginia Legislature has Used the VA-DMV 4 Times to Take Away Options, Access and Offerings from Those Who are Listed on the VSP Registry



I’m still working on revising the Legislative Goal page, I hope to have it finished tomorrow. 

But as I was reorganizing my goals I came to realize just how many times the Virginia Legislature has used the VA-DMV to tighten restrictions, limit access (no online or US mail) and limit offerings for both VSP Registry Offenders AND their loved ones. PLUS get more money out of them and ONLY them because they have to return so often! 

In the last 9 years 4 different DMV related laws went into effect. 

So I decided to post them all here. 

It’s really sad and quite maddening that the Virginia Legislature continues to take away options, limit access and shorten expiration dates simply because someone is listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry. 

Mary Devoy

 

VA-DMV Standard Driver’s Licenses: 
In 2008 Virginia Standard Driver’s Licenses became valid for eight years instead of the previous five years. Also the DMV began encouraging Virginians to renew on-line or through the mail instead of at a DMV location so a $5 processing fee was added for anyone who renews in-person.  

Except for anyone listed on the VSP Registry. 

All Registered Sex Offenders are prohibited from renewing their licenses on-line or through the mail. This means they are paying an extra $5 for the trip. 

Also all Registered Sex Offenders drivers license are NOT good for 8 years but only for 5 years, 37.5% sooner than other all other Virginia drivers. 

VA-DMV Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL): 
In 2011 Virginia Commercial Driver’s Licenses banned anyone listed on the VSP Registry from obtaining/retaining a Type-S License, to drive a school bus OR a commercial vehicle that is chartering a school or daycare group/activity. All existing licenses were immediately cancelled. 

Anyone listed on the VSP Registry had to obtain a Type-P License, to drive a commercial vehicle with passengers.  All new paperwork and fees were required. 

VA-DMV Specialty and Vanity License Plates: 
In 2016 ANY DMV-Specialty License Plate that is related to children or children's programs or with revenues paid to funds for the benefit of children is prohibited if the vehicle is owned OR co-owned (w/ a parent, a spouse or teenage child) by anyone listed on the VSP Registry. If the Registered Sex Offender remains on the vehicle the current license plate would not be allowed to be renew and no new plates would be issued.  

                        These current (2016) license plates were included:
1.       Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Kid’s First
2.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Heart
3.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Hand
4.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Star
5.       Virginia Cure Childhood Cancer
6.      Virginia Unlocking Autism
7.       Virginia Kid’s Eat Free 

Also in 2016, it was the VA-DMV shall not issue or renew personalized (Vanity) license plates if the vehicle is owned OR co-owned (w/ a parent, a spouse or teenage child) by anyone listed on the VSP Registry if the requested personalization (letter/number combination) relates to or references children. But by who’s judgment? It will just be easier for the VA-DMV to just deny all vanity-requests by RSO’s to avoid any possible issues. 

VA-DMV Special Identification Cards: 
In 2017 Virginia Special Identification Cards (for Person 70 Years of Age or Older who do not have a Driver’s License) fee was increased and became valid for eight years instead of the previous seven years. 

Except for anyone listed on the VSP Registry. 

All Registered Sex Offenders are prohibited from renewing these identification cards on-line or through the mail.  
 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Farewell Legislative Goal #2, You Were Extremely Worthy but the Virginia State Police Opposed You for More than 7 Years…..So They Won, While Virginians Lost


I am redoing my Legislative Goal page this weekend. One of the changes that may be noticed on that page is Goal #2 is not what it used to be. That’s because I’ve removed it and am no longer working on it. 

But I wanted to be sure Goal #2 is documented on this site because I spent a lot of time over 8 Virginia General Assemblies trying to accomplish Goal #2 but at every turn the Virginia State Police Legislative Liaisons became a barrier, with different excuses or demands every session. 

So this Post today is a look back at 8 years of trying to get one simple and necessary reform accomplished in Virginia and the unbelievable push-back that occurred.

What is the problem or problems, what are the possible solutions, steps taken to achieve those solutions, who objected and how did they object and where are we today. Are we better off? NO we aren’t. Read on.

Mary Devoy
 

 
Original Goal #2 was, written notice of all Legal Restrictions /Regulations that all Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) must abide by in Virginia be given. 

When new "Sex Offender" laws are passed in Virginia, including restricting their movement, their employment, their housing or what information is mandated to be submitted within a specific timeframe by the Offender, they are NOT notified of the change in law, but yet are obligated to follow the new rule.

These specific laws passed by the Virginia Legislature carry a penalty of a Class 6 Felony, even if the original conviction requiring registration was a misdemeanor. These laws are not intuitive but yet RSO’s are expected not to violate them. 

When a Virginian is under DOC Probation they receive a complete list of rules that they sign to acknowledge receipt. Then if the Probationer breaks a rule, they face the legal consequences for the violation. 

But the Commonwealth makes no effort  to advise Registered Sex Offenders (RSO's) and their “Rules of the Game” change yearly when new retroactive laws are passed and if they "guess" incorrectly they face up to 5 years in prison. An extremely high cost paid for by Virginians for an arbitrary felony based on an administrative act (the VSP Registry). 

If a law (that originally required a fiscal impact) is important enough for the Virginia Legislature to pass, is it NOT equally important to inform those citizens it is intended to manage? 

States like North Carolina, Illinois & Indiana advise their RSO’s of their legal obligations at every re-registration and Illinois & Kentucky notify their RSO's of new changes in law. 

All Virginia and all Federal laws should be available in easily understandable terms not legal mumbo-jumbo.  

The first copy would be given to an RSO at upon their first registration and then an updated and complete list given each year after the General Assembly session when the new laws take effect on July 1st . 

The list would be posted on-line and available upon request including to be mailed to those RSO’s without Internet access.
 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Action Item for Virginia HB1485-Patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell, Ask Governor McAuliffe to Veto it OR to Amend it, TODAY!


Update 4:50PM 03/17:

In the last hour LIS has updated HB1485, Governor McAuliffe signed it into law yesterday. It was only posted in LIS 2-3 days ago that the Bill was headed to the Governor. So much for public comment or amendments to be considered in Virginia. It’s an anti-Sex Offender Bill? Sign it, sign it, sign it! Don’t ask questions, don’t consider the collateral consequences, they’re JUST Sex Offenders.

The Virginia State Police will be applying this new law retroactively upon RSO’s whose convictions go back as far as 2000 and the VSP will NOT be notifying them of their new restrictions ahead of time. 

Mary 

Original Post:

HB1485 adds any person convicted of an offense under the laws of any foreign country or any political subdivision thereof, or the United States or any political subdivision thereof to:
·         §§ 18.2-370.2 (Loitering) within 100 feet:
§      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2000
§      A child day center if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006
§      A locality operated playground, athletic field or facility, or gymnasium, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2008 “for the purpose of having any contact whatsoever with children that are not in his custody”
·         §§ 18.2-370.3 (Residency) within 500 feet:
§      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
§      A child day center (as defined in § 63.2-100 ), if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
§      The boundary line of any place he knows is a public park, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2008 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim  when such park:
                                                      (i) Is owned and operated by a county, city or town
                                                      (ii) Shares a boundary line with a primary, secondary, or high school
                                                      (iii) Is regularly used for school activities
                        * The residence is allowed if the school, daycare or park is established subsequent to his conviction
·         §§ 18.2-370.4 (Employment or Volunteering)
§      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
§      A child day center if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim 

And a grandfather clause was added for residences established prior to July 1, 2017. 
 

The Virginia State Police will be applying HB1485 retroactively to Registered Sex Offenders who are already listed on the VSP Registry for an out-of-state, Federal, Military, Foreign or Tribal conviction will now be obligated to abide by these 3 changes in VA Code. 

But the VSP refuses to notify those affected RSO’s of the change in law that will apply to them as of July 1, 2017 which has a felony punishment and limits their housing options. 

This means any RSO who has been picking up or dropping off their child on the corner of school property or waits for them in the parking lot during soccer, band or cheerleader practice today will be unknowingly committing a felony as of July 1, 2017. Yes, the section for playground, athletic field or gymnasium says "for the purpose of having contact...." but we all know an arrest and an investigation will occur if anyone makes a complaint and that means bail, hiring an attorney and possible loss of employment and the burden to prove what contact was or wasn't being made falls on the Offender, not the State!
 
HB1485 will also mean any RSO who moves to a new apartment or townhome or decides to buy a house after July 1, 2017 needs to know that it can not be within 500ft of a daycare or school property but will have no idea until their VSP Trooper or Compliance Officer comes to their newly registered address to confirm the change and then is told their new home is illegal. 
 

The Unjust, Irrational, and Unconstitutional Consequences of Pedophilia Panic By Jacob Sullum


A MUST Read!!!!!!! –Mary Devoy
 

The Unjust, Irrational, and Unconstitutional Consequences of Pedophilia Panic
The fear and disgust triggered by this subject help explain why laws dealing with sex offenses involving minors frequently lead to bizarre results. 

By Jacob Sullum March 15, 2017

"Sounds like you enjoy sex with kids," a reader tweeted at me after seeing a blog post I wrote about former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle. It was 2015, and Fogle had just signed a plea agreement in which he admitted to looking at child pornography and having sex with two 16-year-old prostitutes. "You also look like [a] pervert," the reader added. 

That's the sort of response you can expect if you write about the broad category known as "sex offenders" and suggest that not all of them are the same or that some of them are punished too severely. In this case, I had noted that the decision to prosecute Fogle under federal law, which had been justified by factors that had little or nothing to do with the gravity of his offenses, had a dramatic impact on the penalty he was likely to receive. 
 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Verizon is Eliminating Their Email Service and “Migrating” Those Accounts to AOL, for Virginia’s RSO’s That Don’t Know or Act Fast Enough This Could Amount to a Felony

Update: 
In less than 10 hours a VA RSO who checks this site regularly and who email’s me learned their Verizon email will be transferring to AOL. They advised me that they have NOT heard one word about this switch from Verizon. Now they are keeping an eye on their account and looking for email’s about the switch so they can try to comply with VA law.

 
Their email address may not change or stop working at first but at some point down the line AOL is going to want their name in the email addresses of their users to say AOL, not Verizon.
 
Mary 

Original Post:
Just 30 minutes ago I walked into my living room and heard the end of a Richmond NBC12 news story that not only caught my attention but immediately made me consider the possible arbitrary felonies that may follow soon in Virginia via the Virginia State Police (VSP). 

The news story (which is NOT posted on NBC12 as of right now) is that Verizon is discontinuing its email service and those accounts will be “migrated” to AOL accounts. It seems this has been news for a week now, but tonight’s story was the very first I had heard of it. 

After a Google search I found an article with some details here

So what’s the issue? 

Per § 9.1-903. Virginia’s 22,000+ Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) have ONLY 30 minutes to register in-person (there is no phone or electronic system) ANY change (additions or deletions) with their email. And as a side note the Virginia State Police Barracks are not open evenings, weekends or holidays. 

So per tonight’s news I’ve learned Verizon is going to delete existing email addresses and it sounds as though new AOL addresses may be created all behind the scenes without any involvement of the person who owned the Verizon account.  

Now I check email daily but there are MANY people who do not. They might check it weekly or it could be monthly. But for RSO’s in Virginia if an email address has been deleted by Verizon and created by AOL without any action (at a VSP location) by the person who is attached to the account they could be facing a new felony. First an investigation, then charges and an arrest, then bail (if they can come up with it), possible loss of employment, hiring an attorney, and then a court date. All because Verizon is eliminating email service and they’ve handed it over to AOL.