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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Virginia Department of Corrections Annual Report: In 2017 Recidivism Rate is 23.4%, Fewer SVP’s are Being Conditionally Released and Sex Offender Treatment / Assessment Funding Hasn’t Changed in 8 Years



Back in 2015 is when I first posted the links to VA-DOC Annual Reports. The 2016 breakdown can be found here http://goo.gl/Kpvsvx.
 
Just a reminder for readers, the VA-DOC stopped tracking the recidivism rate for Registered Sex Offenders back in 2013.
 
The 2017 VA-DOC Report is now online and here are some of the highlights I’ve taken note of:




1. Virginia’s rate of recidivism had a slight increase, 23.4% to be the lowest rate of the 45 States that measure recidivism- page 3
- In 2016 VA’s recidivism rate was 23.0% and in 2015 it was 22.8%.
- In 2016 VA was the 2nd lowest of 47 States that measure recidivism.
2. Too many offenders still enter the community from prison without housing, particularly sex offenders and violent offenders. – page 4
3. Many community service boards do not provide mental health treatment to certain types of offenders, such as those convicted of sex offenses or murders, contributing to a higher public risk and recidivism rate for offenders with mental health needs. page 4
4. Total Number of People under VA-DOC Probation Supervision grew from 61,281 to 64,679 - page 8
- That’s an 5.54% growth rate for 2017
- In 2016 it was 4.64% and in 2015 it was 2.44%.
5. Total VA-DOC amount allocated for Sex Offender Assessment and Treatment is $1,367,00.00 - page 10
- This dollar amount has NOT changed since 2010.
6. Total VA-DOC amount allocated for Sex Offender Polygraphs is $299,900.00 - page 10
- This dollar amount has NOT changed since 2009.
7. Total Number of Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) conditionally released from the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation (VCBR) grew from 181 to 197 - page 13
- That’s an 8.84% growth rate for 2017
- In 2016 it was 16.77% and in 2015 it was 28.10%.

 
Mary Davye Devoy

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nextdoor.com Doesn’t Just Block Registered Sex Offenders from Joining Their Website, but ANYONE Who Lives at the Same Address as the RSO



Update:


Received this email at 1:24PM today

 


Original Post:


Richmond CBS6 ran a story this morning on stolen vehicles and neighbors who used Nextdoor.com to discuss/locate a vehicle.

One of my neighbors mentioned a similar website months ago to me so this morning I thought why not join to be in the loop?

So I entered my home address, then my name and I selected a password.

Instead of gaining access to the site for my neighborhood I saw this:

Address Problem

We’re sorry. An issue with your address is blocking your ability to join Nextdoor.

…and I was instructed to email them at accountaccess@nextdoor.com so I did. I have not yet received a reply to my email but I started to have a weird suspicion on why MY address would be an issue. So I started to read Nextdoor.com’s FAQ’s , Privacy Policy and Member Agreement.

And there is was:


Because my address is listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry I am not permitted to join Nextdoor.com. Not, because I’m listed on the VSP SO Registry, but because my home is.

That’s right, I am now guilty-by-association and so I am not allowed the same rights or access as everyone else.

This isn’t the first time either. Back
in 2016 it was the Virginia Legislature and Governor McAuliffe directing the VADMV to never allow me to display a specialty license plate that supports children’s organization on MY vehicle if my vehicle is co-owned with a VSP RSO. I could bump my spouse off the vehicle registration but since we live in a Commonwealth, we put both our names on everything and why should I have to boot him just to support an organization of my choice on the vehicle I drive?

The U.S. Sex Offender Registries are not allowed to be punitive, they must remain administrative otherwise they are unconstitutional. Not only have private and public entities made the label of RSO a punitive measure for those listed, but the trickle down to their spouses, parents, siblings, children, roommates, landlords and employers continues to expand every day, every week and every month.

I’m sure each Nextdoor.com member can block neighbors they don’t want to communicate with just like on Facebook and Twitter.

How is a blanket-ban by Nextdoor.com against me from communicating with my neighbors in the home that we’ve lived in for 18 years because of my husband’s 10 year old conviction, not punitive?



I am always professional, respectful and open minded when it comes to these issues and proposed reforms but there are some days that the hate, the segregation, the vengeance and the ignorance really pushes me to the edge. Blanket-bans for RSO's and especially bans that sweep up people that live w/ the RSO protect no one, they are a tool of control and containment based on zero facts.

So......... Nextdoor.com, F__k you!


Mary Davye Devoy

Monday, September 11, 2017

In Virginia if an Emergency is Declared, Registered Sex Offenders Will NOT be banned from Emergency Shelters






Where Florida counties sheltered sex offenders during Irma, September 13, 2017
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/florida-counties-sheltered-sex-offenders-irma/

Florida sheriff sued after threatening to scour hurricane shelters for criminals, September 11, 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/11/florida-sheriff-sued-after-threatening-to-scour-hurricane-shelters-for-criminals/?utm_term=.7cf5795cd7ee




Sex Offenders in Emergency Shelters, September 7, 2017
https://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/sex-offenders-emergency-shelters/

Original Post:


What if parts of Virginia were under a Hurricane Warning or Severe Flooding?

What if a Tornado or an Earthquake hit and people needed to stay in local shelters?

These natural disasters are all possibilities in Virginia.

What if you’re a Registered Sex Offender?

In the last few days we’ve heard and read about how badly Florida has handled sheltering Registered Sex Offenders amid Hurricane Irma.

During Hurricane Irma, Registered Sex Offenders Struggle To Find Shelter, September 10, 2017
http://wlrn.org/post/during-hurricane-irma-registered-sex-offenders-struggle-find-shelter 

Florida Sex Offenders Told to Seek Shelter in Jails and Prisons, or Leave State During Hurricane Irma, September 10, 2017
http://www.newsweek.com/florida-sex-offenders-told-seek-shelter-jails-and-prisons-or-leave-state-662559 
 
Florida sheriff faces lawsuit for offering to shelter wanted criminals in jail during Hurricane Irma, September 10, 2017

Weathering a Hurricane in Prison, September 9, 2017
https://www.newyorker.com/sections/news/weathering-a-hurricane-in-prison 
 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 6, 2017: Federal DOJ Announces the State of Virginia is now SMART Office SORNA/AWA Compliant. WHAT?





09/21/17 Update:

Thanks to a longtime reader/supporter we now know HOW and WHY the SMART Office decided to certify Virginia as SORNA/AWA compliant when there is no possible way we are.


Under multiple SORNA requirements it says, "The deviation does not substantially disserve the purposes of SORNA requirements". In other words, good enough Virginia.

SMART is so desperate to certify more than the 17 stagnant States they have lowered the bar of compliance significantly! SORNA used to mandate the State make 4 visits by the authorities each year AND that a new photograph would be taken each of those times. I know because I had to raise the point of VSP costs and manpower for those additional 2 residential visits every year but that SORNA requirements seems to no longer exist.

I actually knew this would happen I’ve said it to Virginia Legislators over the years, SORNA/AWA has to look like it’s an achievable and desirable goal for the states otherwise the public will wonder why only 17 states have made the effort.

As I told VA Legislators 2 weeks ago in an email when the SMART Office made the declaration VA was compliant, they can no longer propose a harsher law and claim to the committee, the chamber floor and the media that it's needed to get VA closer the SORNA compliance because somehow, we are already there.
 

Just like if I get a bill sponsored to:
  1. Removed the employer information from the online VSP Registry  goo.gl/g65RVk
  2. Removed the college/university information from the online VSP Registry  goo.gl/hZKu5U
  3. Stopped requiring misdemeanor offenses from registering as “Sex Offenders”
  4. Stopped requiring juveniles from registering as “Sex Offenders”  goo.gl/yDvWUX
  5. Removed misdemeanor offenses from the online VSP Registry and onto a private (authority only) list  goo.gl/DeeWOa
  6. Removed juveniles from the online VSP Registry and onto a private (authority only) list  goo.gl/yDvWUX
  7. Allowed juveniles to petition for removal on their 21st or 25th birthday instead of being “Lifers” on the VSP Registry  goo.gl/yDvWUX
  8. Eliminate Virginia’s myth-base Residency Restriction law  goo.gl/LMWgh7

I have the list of SORNA compliant states that do these 8 things so if VA did too, we would NOT lose SMART Office certification. 

Knowing who is certified and how they handle their RSO's can sometimes help with smart reform!


Mary Davye Devoy



09/10/17 Update:
There have been no USDOJ or SMART Office tweets since the 09/06 email on Virginia being certified AWA/SORNA compliant. And nothing on the SMART Office website, this is very odd.

Mary
as of 09/10/17

Original Post:

About an hour ago I received a US DOJ email announcement (see below) that makes no sense, claiming that Virginia is now Federally SORNA/AWA compliant. This is not possible!

Why? 

Because back in 2011 the Virginia Crime Commission estimated it would cost an additional $12.5 Million to meet the Federal requirements to be SMART Office certified. A $12.5 Mil cost to only save 10% of the forever declining Federal Byrne Grant (the penalty for not meeting Federal guidelines) made no sense and so in the last 5 years Virginia has NOT passed any laws that moved the Commonwealth closer to AWA/SORNA compliance. Employer and College information (not required by SORNA) was already posted on the VSP Registry for years even though a Bill passed last year confirming it and Residency Restrictions have nothing to do w/ SORNA. Other than those Bills, nothing new has been passed in Virginia for RSO's and there has been no $12 Mil Budget amendment, actually by 2016 or 2017 that amount would have gone up.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

WVTF’s Sex Offenders and Public Safety: A Four-Part Series


Well a 4 Part Series on Sex Offender Registries and Laws that a Virginia Public Radio station was working on for many months is now available and I’m SO mad! 

Back in March, right after the 2017 Virginia General Assembly ended I was contacted by a Public Radio reporter who wanted to interview me about the VSP SO Registry, VA SO laws and my 9 years of advocacy. 

She traveled to our home and my husband was off from work that day so he joined us. 

The recorded interview went on for 2 hours and it began with her asking my husband to tell her exactly what happened to him back in 2007. Right off the bat he wasn’t ready to talk and was surprised that was the direction the reporter wanted to go in so I told the series of events instead.  

We covered tons of proposed legislation, failed legislation and passed legislation in Virginia. We covered statistics, costs and lots of research in the SO field. 

A few weeks after we gave the interview I learned the reporter was going to branch out to national reform organizations and I voiced my disappointment that the series wasn’t going to stay focused on Virginia, that’s why I participated in the first place. I advised the reporter that if the series was going to be about other advocacy groups in other states I’d prefer not to be included because there are issues in other states that are far worse than in VA and that would over take the story. I also voiced my disappointment in the possibility that the reporter was going to interview an RSO who I had communicated with previously who was doing things that could in fact lead to harsher laws being proposed in Virginia and holding him up as an example wasn’t a good idea. 

Well last night the Public Radio series was posted online and the only part of our interview that was used was what happened back in 2007. We didn't even want to talk about that, I wrote about it in 2010 in a VP editorial. What about bad legislation, good legislation or ANY VA legislation?

THEN on top of that WVTF didn’t use our real names, like we're hiding or something. I didn't ask for pseudonyms and we were not told we'd be given pseudonyms, I’m so mad!
 

WVTF calls us Debby and Don Delaney in Part 1, there is no Debby and Don Delaney! 

If the reporter had planned on using pseudonyms then why did she take photos of me when she visited? There is a disclaimer claiming names have been changed to protect the "victim" if we had been advised our names were going to be changed we would have declined the interview from the very first email request.

I may never do another interview again, about this advocacy because all they ever want to ask/focus on is about the 2007 false accusation, the injustice awe faced nd the plea deal he took as if we regularly complain about it, we do NOT! The last 9 years of public advocacy has been about smart reform for others, not about us.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

No Fancy Assessment Tools Needed the 5 Categories of Registered Sex Offenders


I am the kind of person that may not remember your name when I run into you at the grocery store but I know your face is familiar. 

I probably won’t remember how many kids you have, your spouses name or where you went to college just because we worked together 5 years ago.  

I also probably won’t notice you’re wearing a new piece of jewelry or you’re driving a new car.  

But I am the type of person that is very astute when it comes to the character of a person. When people talk they give you clues about themselves that reveal a lot more then they probably think they’ve revealed.  

Over the last 9 years as an advocate I’ve paid very close attention to what RSO's and their loved ones say and do. 

I’ve met with many RSO’s and family members over the years and I’ve heard from even more via email, postal mail or telephone. 

I’ve learned a lot about the character and integrity from those who have been swept up by the overly broad Sex Offender laws, restrictions and regulations. I have also witnessed a percentage of arrogance, manipulation, repudiation and the willingness to look the other way when a voice or an action of moral obligation is desperately needed. 

Now I don’t like labels, who does? 

And I know many followers don’t like classifications or grouping former-offenders into categories. 

But I do believe the small percentage of those who re-offend share similar traits, things they say, things they do and things they don’t do. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Virginia RSO is Being Ejected from VA-DOC Housing in 30 Days, But He Can’t Secure Steady Employment Because VSP Registry Posts Employer Information Where Will He Go?


This morning I found this article. 

Ex-con feels he's being forced to re-offend, asks state to step in, August 15, 2017
http://www.nbc12.com/story/36144480/ex-con-feels-hes-being-forced-to-re-offend-asks-state-to-step-in
 

So I am posting Legislative Goal#1 in response, Virginia should remove at a minimum the Employer/Company Name of RSO's from the online Virginia State Police (VSP) Registry. The street address of the employer should also be removed from the online VSP Registry. 

I’ve attempted three times to achieve this goal with legislation and every time the Virginia State Police opposes it and the Virginia House Court of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee kill my Bill, see below for details. 

The VA-DOC could save thousands of dollars EVERY year, IF the VSP Registry removed employer information from public view. 

Please contact your one Virginia Delegate AND your one Senator THIS week, ask them to sponsor legislation (a Bill) for the below at the upcoming 2018 Virginia General Assembly session.

Thank you. 

Mary Davye Devoy 
 

Goal #1: 

Today Virginia Businesses are being punished/ shamed by customers, clients, vendors and neighboring businesses for hiring an RSO when they are participating in the successful re-entry of ex-offenders in Virginia. Most employers will not hire otherwise qualified individuals knowing that their company name will be posted on the VSP Registry. They do NOT want to be bothered with the criticism, shame, intimidation, harassment and occasional threats that follow. 

If the Employer/Company name and the street address were removed for the Internet nothing would change when it comes to the registration requirements, restrictions and VSP checks on the Offenders.
·         The RSO’s would continue to register ALL their employer information with the Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer).
·         The Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer) would still confirm that their place of employment does not violate any State Law AND they would still confirm that the RSO does actually work there.  

Virginia is one of only 6 States that publicly posts an RSO’s employer AND full address. 

29 states do not publicly post ANY employer information, 5 of those States are certified Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant.  
 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cruel and Unusual: The Case Against Registering Kids as Sex Offenders By Nicole Pittman and Riya Saha Shah


A great piece by Nicole Pittman and Riya Shah of Impact Justice!
Mary 

Cruel and Unusual: The Case Against Registering Kids as Sex Offenders, Summer 2017 Issue American Bar Magazine
By Nicole Pittman and Riya Saha Shah
https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/criminal_justice_magazine/v32/SHAH.authcheckdam.pdf

Sunday, August 6, 2017

50 States: Which States Publicly Post an RSO’s Enrollment in College/University and Which Ones Don’t?


Two days ago I found this paper, Variations in State Sex Offender Statutes: Implications for U.S. Higher Education
By Bradley Cluster

Now many of you may remember back in 2016 VA Delegate Rob Bell proposed HB628 which would add Employer information to what is posted on the Virginia State Police (VSP) Sex Offender Registry, something the VSP had been doing without Legislature permission for 8 or 9 years AND it would add the enrollment at Higher Institutions of Education to be posted on the VSP Registry. At that time it seemed that the VSP had already been posting some RSO’s college information online but maybe not every RSO’s including online (not campus) enrollment. With the passage of the 2016 Bill the VSP would have the VA Legislatures permission/instruction to do so. 

As many of you may remember I had numerous Action Items against the 2016 Bill
But in the end it passed. 

Since then I have heard from a handful of RSO's across the State and the denial rate for admission sounds as though it’s increased even for online enrollment. But there is no way to know for sure even though the VSP has the numbers of enrolled RSO’s from the prior years to today when asked for this data (plus homelessness, self employment, unemployment, juveniles, senior citizens and race) via FOIA they deny the request. 

The above paper is interesting but what I found most interesting is the list of States that DO NOT publicly lists an RSO’s enrollment in an Institute of Higher Education.  As with the list of States that DO NOT publicly lists an RSO’s Employer information OR Juveniles and Misdemeanor Offenses it has no bearing in being Federal certified as Adam Walsh Act compliant. 

No Internet Listing of Institute of Higher Education:
  1. Arizona          
  2. Arkansas
  3. Colorado*      
  4. California
  5. Florida*
  6. Georgia
  7. Idaho 
  8. Illinois
  9. Iowa
  10. Kentucky
  11. Minnesota
  12. Montana 
  13. New Jersey
  14. New Mexico
  15. New York
  16. North Carolina
  17. North Dakota
  18. Oklahoma*
  19. Oregon           
  20. Rhode Island
  21. South Dakota*
  22. Vermont
  23. Washington
  24. Wisconsin
* The State is Certified Federal Adam Walsh Act AWA/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office, as of February 2017
 

Now that I know this I have decided to add Remove Institute of Higher Education from the VSP Registry to my list of Legislative Goals. I just have to decide if I add it after Goal #1 (to remove the Employer info) or at the bottom as Goal #14. 

Without a college degree all former-offenders are more like to re-offend, why has the Virginia Legislature chosen to single-out those listed on the VSP Registry ? 
 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Everyone Keeps Asking Me, Why Don’t You Take a Vacation? Life as a U.S. Registered Sex Offender isn’t Just a Posting on the Internet, its One Arbitrary Misstep Away From a Felony.


 

It’s July, smack-dab in the middle of vacation time. 
 


Everywhere I go, everyone asks me what we are doing this week, this weekend.  
 
Are you going somewhere for vacation? 
 
Are you doing something fun this weekend? 
 
Have you been anywhere exciting recently? 
 
No,  No,  And NOOOO! 
 
Years ago we had talked about a trip to Alaska to see icebergs and polar bears. 
 
We used to ski. 
 
We had planned to travel to Ireland and Scotland to visit castles and ruins for our 20th wedding anniversary which would have been 2012. 
 
If we leave our home in Virginia for a either a short or a long vacation, it comes with too many questions and risks. 
 
Even a job related training conference out-of-state is no longer an option; even if not attending could possibly result in termination. 
 
As a Virginia Registered Sex Offender staying in another State means we must find out what all the legal restrictions, regulations and mandates are ahead of time and there is no single place to find that information.  
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to register with every authority in every county/city we pass through, or face a felony. 
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to avoid any public street or sidewalk within a certain distance from a school, daycare facility, library, park, playground or athletic field, or face a felony. 
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to avoid fast-food establishments and malls w/ playgrounds, or face a felony. 
 
When we arrive to our destination he might have to register with the authorities, give his fingerprints, be photographed or even give a DNA sample. In some States the rules are statewide in others it’d by county/city it could be within 48 hours like in Las Vegas or it could be by the fifth day like in Florida. Then uniformed officers could possibly visit our hotel, condo, beach house or relative’s home to confirm the location he's registered is accurate. This could include an elderly grandmother’s home or college roommate’s house would be added to the Sex Offender Registry, guessing we wouldn't be invited back for a second visit after this humiliation for them. 
 
Oh, an ignorance of the law is not a defense. 
 
He could be legally banned from lakes, beaches, movie theaters, golf courses, ski resorts, state fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, zoos, pools, fitness centers, churches or more. That State may or may not advise the visiting RSO’s of the areas they are prohibited from and if we made one unintended error, he’d face a felony.   
 
Or like Disney World or Six Flags, they could have a No RSO Policy and once they scan his drivers license swipe-strip, deny him entry no if's-ands-or-buts after we traveled all the way there. 
 
 

Another Virginia State Police Internal Policy Change that Directly Affects All Registered Sex Offenders But No Notice was Given to the RSO’s


Yesterday I was advised that the Virginia State Police (VSP) is no longer sending out a certified letter advising Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders(RSO) that their official VSP photograph is due to be retaken. 

Just a reminder to readers, the Virginia State Police is the official owner of the VA Sex Offender Registry/database and they are the  dedicated authority to monitor and manage Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT incarcerated or under VA-DOC Probation supervision. Local authorities (police and sheriff’s) can take RSO re-registrations, photos and data changes but the local authorities send all of that to the VSP to confirm and enter into the VSP Registry. 

This post is to alert VA’s RSO’s of this 2017 VSP policy change because yet again the VSP isn’t notifying the RSO’s of an internal policy that directly affects them and a large part of my advocacy has become notifying VA RSO’s and their loved ones of the ever-changing RSO policies, bans, requirements, restrictions, mandates and laws. 

I received an email from an RSO on 07/28 stating that he never received his letter from the VSP advising him to renew his VSP Registry photograph. 

Per § 9.1-904. Reregistration every VA RSO “must submit to be photographed every 2 years”. 

Now, for those who are NOT on the VSP Registry, you’re probably thinking OK, that’s easy to remember, go get your photograph taken at the same time every two years, aaaahhhhhh but it isn’t. 

Let me give you some background on re-registration timeframes and VSP photographs so you’ll understand the issue better. 

1.    In Virginia depending on your conviction you re-register in VA every 90 days, every 180 days or once per year. Now if you have ever had a failure-to-register conviction you actually must re-register every 30 days. Less than 17% of the VSP Registry re-registers once per year so that means more than 83% are multiple times per year and because it’s based on # of days it’s never the same month or time of month so “remembering” when you are due next isn’t so easy. 

2.   When RSO’s originally register they submit to be photographed so their original photograph date should be the basis for the 2 year renewal even though a re-registration may never fall on that date again (for the 90 and 180 day folks), right? No. 

Per § 46.2-330. (changes were made in 2008) section F The VA-DMV shall electronically transmit application information, including photographs, to the Department of State Police for an Registered Sex Offender. 

What does this mean? 

Well as my husband found out October 15, 2013 when he went to the VSP for his annual re-registration and to submit to his VSP 2 year photo they refused to take his photo even though it was time. Why did they refuse? Because when he had renewed his VA-DMV drivers license back in July (because it’s only valid for 5 years as an RSO instead of the standard 8 years) the VSP took his new VA-DMV photo and posted that on the VSP Registry and recalculated his next photo due date as an arbitrary day in July 2015. That meant in 2015 my husband would have to take a trip to the VSP twice, once in July for his photo and then again in October for his official re-registration. How was this better, smarter or cheaper? It's isn't. 2 separate VSP employees would have to give my husband time in 2015 to comply with VA law and then two other VSP employees would have to enter that data into the VSP Registry database. at two separate times Only because I raised holy-hell did my husbands photo get reposted in October 2013 to sync his due dates back up so that only one visit to the VSP would be required in 2015 and then again in 2017, 2019 and so on. BUT almost every other RSO in VA has had their VSP photograph date moved to an arbitrary time of the year when they last made a trip to the VA-DMV and it will happen again when they renew in 5 years. This means additional trips into the VSP, additional VSP employees dedicating their time and in the end more costs to the Commonwealth. 

This is why a letter prior to the photograph due date for Virginia’s RSO’s is necessary, because no one can actually know if the VSP is counting the last VSP photo or the last VA-DMV photo. 

So yesterday I called the VSP and I asked about the change in policy and the Lieutenant that I spoke to had no knowledge of the change but said they’d email me an answer.