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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Two Myths: Sex Offenders Have a High Recidivism Rate AND Sex Crimes are So Under-Reported Any Attempt to Gather Accurate Recidivism Rates is Impossible


What’s the Real Rate of Sex-Crime Recidivism? May 28, 2016
One sentence in a 1986 mass-market magazine continues to sway court cases involving sex offenders.
By Steven Yoder

In the early 1980s, rehabilitation counselor Robert Longo could hardly have known that his work with convicted sex offenders would make him a minor celebrity. At the time, he was running a program at the Oregon State Hospital to treat and rehabilitate prisoners who had committed sex crimes. It was a new field, and Longo says they were using what at the time were considered innovative approaches: aversive conditioning, administration of Depo-Provera to reduce testosterone levels, and penile plethysmography to measure arousal. 

In 1985, documentary filmmaker John Zaritsky heard about Longo’s work and gave him a call. Oregon’s program was featured prominently in the resulting HBO special, Rapists: Can They Be Stopped? While the film was being shot, word got around about Longo’s methods, which were seen as a potential solution to ending rape. He started getting invitations to appear on Oprahhe was on five times in all, he remembersand now he was being quoted in the New York Times and national magazines. 

The following year, Longo and a colleague were invited to write an article for Psychology Today about what could be achieved through treatment programs like his. In it, they included this line: “Most untreated sex offenders released from prison go on to commit more offensesindeed, as many as 80 percent do.” 

It’s not that the statement was an inventionLongo says it was an estimate based on the numbers he was seeing in his program for some subpopulations of sex offenders who didn’t finish treatment. And he points to other research from that era that reached similar conclusionsfor example, the 1990 Handbook of Sexual Assault noted in a literature review that up to 71 percent of untreated exhibitionists had been found to re-offend in studies with follow-up periods from four to nine years. Still, Longo’s assertion wasn’t meant as an estimate of rates among offenders in his own program, which he says ranged from 10 to 15 percent depending on the offense. The point of the piece was to show that effective treatment works. 

But the sentence, it turned out, would change history.

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Can RSO’s Legally Attend Church in Virginia? The Virginia Attorney General’s Office Has Refused/Declined to Answer The Question Even Though They are The Legal Advisor of Virginia’s Laws


Remember the AG Opinion submitted last August to determine if Virginia’s 22,500+ Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) can OR can not attend church if there is a daycare and/or school on the property? 

The two Virginia statutes in question in this matter are:
§ 18.2-370.5. - Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property
§ 18.2-370.2. - Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children on School and Daycare Property 

Well I learned late yesterday that the Virginia Attorney General’s Office has declined/ignored the AG Opinion submission…….an option that they are allowed to do AND they don’t have to put their reason for denying/ignoring it in writing.  

The Virginia State Police (the authority in charge of monitoring and managing our RSO’s) won’t answer the question……. is it a felony for an RSO to attend church if there is a daycare and/or school on the property? 

Multiple Virginia Delegates and Senators over the last 8 years who are also attorneys won’t answer the question……and now we know the Virginia Attorney General’s Office won’t either? 

The Virginia Legislators wrote the two statutes above, did they intend to prohibit RSO’s from worshipping or not? 

The State Police enforces the two statutes above, will they arrest an RSO for attending church or not? 

And the Virginia Attorney General is the legal advisor of our laws with the responsibility to interpret existing law for law enforcement and our Commonwealths’ Attorneys (Prosecutors) and they refuse to state if an RSO attending church is  a violation of Virginia law or not. WHY? 

There is also no public record of the original submission or the refusal by the AG’s Office. 

Transparency? Open Government? Not in Virginia! 

Virginia has 2 laws on their books that not only….could be denying some of our citizens their freedom to worship but could result in a felony conviction, that’s a problem 

Everyone who has the ability to answer this question has willfully ignored it, that’s a problem. 

Please contact:
  1. The Virginia AG’s Office, ask them to do their job and answer the August 18, 2015 AG Opinion submission, Can RSO’s worship if there is a daycare and/or school on the property?.
  2. The Virginia ACLU and ask them to step in with their resources to find out if Virginia’s RSO’s can legally worship (or not) in Virginia.
  3. Your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator and ask them to patron legislation at the next 2017 Virginia General Assembly session adding text to the two Virginia statutes in question with an exemption for all places of worship.
Mary Devoy

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

For Some Prisoners, Finishing Their Sentences Doesn’t Mean They Get Out: The Special Problem of Being a Sex Offender By Christie Thompson


For Some Prisoners, Finishing Their Sentences Doesn’t Mean They Get Out
The special problem of being a sex offender.
By Christie Thompson

After serving a year and two months for a probation violation, Landreaux Yantz should have been able to walk out of a New York state prison on June 26, 2015. But officials would not let him leave. 

“When I laid in my bed every night I was thinking, ‘I’m free. Why the hell am I still here?’” 

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23 2016: The US Senate will Consider/Vote-on S2613 The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016


Update: 

Senate Passes Grassley’s Bill to Track Sex Offenders, Protect Rights of Victims, May 24, 2016
https://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2016/05/senate-passes-adam-walsh-reauthorization-chuck-grassley/

Senate passes reauthorization unanimously, May 23, 2016

Original Post: 

Today the US Senate will consider/vote-on S2613 (Grassley –R Iowa) The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016. 

What does the AWA Reauthorization Bill do? Well you can read the full amended (April 14th) text here

At a quick glance S2613:
  1. It allocates $20,000,000 to the US Attorney General for 2017 and again in 2018.
  2. It allocates $61,300,000 to the US Marshal’s Service for 2017 and again in 2018.
  3. It adds a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights section to the Act that covers Rape Kit collection, retention and DNA notification. It also redefinesSexual Assault”.
  4. It amends The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 by adding grants for Sexual Assault Survivors.
  5. It directs the US Attorney General to form a Joint Workgroup along with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services that will develop, coordinate, and disseminate best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence. Within 2 years a report is due from this Workgroup.
  6. It also increases the civil remedy time-line for survivors of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking from 3 to 10 years.

 

 
 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Action Item: Abolish Residency Restrictions for RSO’s in Virginia!


Residency Restrictions for Registered Sex Offenders have been widely proven to be not only useless but dangerous to communities. 

Virginia does have Residency Restrictions § 18.2-370.3. for “a limited group” of Registered Sex Offenders. 

Who is included in the Virginia “limited group” of our Residency Restriction Statute? 

These three crimes (some are July 1 2006 and some are 2008):
Ø       § 18.2-61. Rape
Ø       § 18.2-67.1. Forcible sodomy
Ø       § 18.2-67.2. Object sexual penetration 

But while in the commission of:
Ø       § 18.2-47. Abduction and kidnapping
Ø       § 18.2-48. Abduction with intent to extort money or for immoral purpose
Ø       § 18.2-89. Burglary
Ø       § 18.2-90. Entering dwelling house, etc., with intent to commit murder, rape, robbery or arson
Ø       § 18.2-91. Entering dwelling house, etc., with intent to commit larceny, assault and battery or other felony
Ø       § 18.2-51.2. Aggravated malicious wounding 

After the May 6th Pew Trust Residency Restriction piece I wondered how many Virginia RSO’s are actually regulated by § 18.2-370.3. 

So on May 17th I submitted a FOIA to the Virginia State Police who is the official monitor and manager of Virginia’s RSO’s and the VSP Registry. 

I asked 3 very straight forward questions of the VSP:
  1. How many Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia are obligated to follow § 18.2-370.3.
Ø     There are 4 sections (A-D) for convictions to this statute if you can separate the totals into these four groups that would be fine, if not one large number will work too. 

  1. Does the VSP verify the distance for RSO’s ahead of time if asked so the RSO doesn’t sign a lease or buy property that could be in violation of the law?
  2. If an RSO’s residence is found to be in violation of § 18.2-370.3. what steps are then taken/the process by the VSP? 
Ø     Is the RSO given 10, 20 or 30 days to vacate the property OR are they charged by the VSP with a crime and arrested?   
 
Here are the VSP’s answers:
  1. Report does not exist containing the information you are seeking.  All research regarding convictions is archived and would need to be searched manually for each offender.
Ø     Report does not exist
  1. Yes
  2. A criminal investigation would be initiated.  
Ø     The offender would need to be in compliance immediately because he/she would be in violation of the law.
 
I find 3 very concerning points in the VSP’s answers to my FOIA. 
 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing


I receive email’s almost everyday from RSO’s or their loved ones asking me to help them; many times they believe I’m an attorney (I’m not). 

So what do I do as a volunteer advocate working toward data-driven reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry since October 2008, what are my goals? 

Well I do a lot and it’s always evolving but I have a few set goals that cover much of my time so I’m going to share them here for those of you who wonder what I do. 

My first goal has always been to oppose harsher restrictions and regulations that are completely baseless. Playing defense on a platform that far too many of our elected officials exploit to build their own resume. Every year at the General Assembly in Richmond, VA http://goo.gl/FqheXv I face an on-slot of punitive and questionably Unconstitutional measures and almost every year I am the only one to stand up in Sub-Committee or Full-Committee to question if there is even a need for the Bill and then to question the legitimacy of it by proving data a research in opposition. 

My second goal soon became to keep Virginia’s RSO’s updated on what their legal obligations as an RSO were http://goo.gl/5UzoNQ  , if a Virginia statute is unclear or overly broad to get clarification from the Administration http://goo.gl/51E8aZ and if new proposals were working their way through the Virginia Legislature to get RSO’s and their loved ones involved in the process by contacting their District’s Delegate and Senator.
 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Community Plays a Role in Helping Ex-Prisoners (Registered Sex Offenders), Instead of Shunning Them and the Results are Extremely Positive


What a great article (see below), what a great program in Vermont! 

Vermont offers support, guidance, accountability and empathy to its Registered Sex Offenders. 

Whereas in Virginia we continue to expand the restrictions, regulations and barriers which not only isolates our RSO’s but leads to arbitrary violations costing the State more money and time…. and for the RSO…. a new conviction. 

Vermont’s system is preventing future crimes while assisting the RSO’s to become contributing members of society. 

Virginia’s system has nothing to do with assisting our RSO’s in becoming contributing members of society…it labels, restricts and regulates our RSO’s……… period. 

That’s the difference between a system based on hope, success and proven process compared to a system based on punishment, anger and vengeance.  

It’s not being “Soft on Sexual Predators” its being smart in reducing crime and recidivism rates.  

Why can’t Virginia see that? 

Mary Devoy 

 

Community plays a role in helping ex-prisoners, May 15, 2016
By Gina Barton

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Whenever Travis Papineau's parents left town, things went wrong. He logged onto the internet and did things he shouldn't. He got drunk, then got behind the wheel. He acted like a delinquent teenager, even though he was a grown man. 

He always ended up back behind bars. 

A registered sex offender, Papineau had been in and out of prison for years. But this time, he had a plan.

And he had friends: Community volunteers he'd been meeting with every week for three months, since he'd last walked out of a cell in January 2015.
 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Studies, Laws and Programs Have All Proven Residency Restrictions for RSO’s Make Society LESS Safe and Yet Legislators Keep Proposing and Expanding Them


Update: 

See May 20th Post http://goo.gl/re29t3
 

Original Post:

Despite providing the Virginia Delegates and Senators stacks of research and data against Residency Restrictions over  the last 8 years (that I’ve been an advocate) I’ve still been forced to oppose Legislation/Bills proposing expansion of  § 18.2-370.3. Virginia’s Residency Restrictions. 

Ø       2010- HB1004       Del. Athey (retired, now a Judge), Del. Albo, Sen. Vogel
Ø       2011- HB1123         Del. Oder (retired)
Ø       2015- HB1505        Del. Albo 

The below article pretty much sums up every point I’ve made to the Virginia Legislators. I’m sure some lawmaker will propose another Bill to expand in the future and I’ll have to provide them with all the facts all over again.

It’s a real shame that fear-monger, myths, hate and vengeance are how our elected officials chose to address ALL things “Sex Offender”. 

Mary Devoy 
 

Despite Concerns, Sex Offenders Face New Restrictions, May 6, 2016

Once out of prison, few places for sex offenders to live, May 14, 2016

By Jen Fifield


In the last couple of years, the number of sex offenders living on the streets of Milwaukee has skyrocketed, from 16 to 205. The sharp increase comes as no surprise to some. There are few places for them to live.  

In October 2014, the City of Milwaukee began prohibiting violent and repeat sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school, day care center or park. That left just 55 addresses where offenders can legally move within the 100-square-mile city. And their living options soon will become more limited across Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in February that prohibits violent sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of any school, day care, youth center, church or public park in the state. 

Cities and states continue to enact laws that restrict where convicted sex offenders can live, applying the rules to violent offenders such as pedophiles and rapists, and, in some cases, those convicted of nonviolent sex crimes, such as indecent exposure. They are doing so despite studies that show the laws can make more offenders homeless, or make it more likely they will falsely report or not disclose where they are living. And though the laws are meant to protect children from being victimized by repeat offenders, they do not reduce the likelihood that sex offenders will be convicted again for sexual offenses, according to multiple studies, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

In all, 27 states have blanket rules restricting how close sex offenders can live to schools and other places where groups of children may gather, according to research by the Council of State Governments. Hundreds of cities also have restrictions, according to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). And many laws are becoming more restrictive — along with Wisconsin, they expanded last year in Arkansas, Montana, Oklahoma and Rhode Island. 

The restrictions can make offenders’ lives less stable by severely limiting their housing options, and can push them away from family, jobs and social support — all of which make it more likely they will abuse again, according to researchers who have studied the laws, such as Kelly Socia, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. 

“If [the laws] don’t work, and they make life more difficult for sex offenders, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot,” Socia said. 

Some state and local governments — in California, Florida, Iowa, Georgia and Texas — are finding the laws don’t work and are changing them or, more often than not, being told by the courts to do so. Many courts, such as in California and Michigan, have found the laws to be unconstitutional for being too vague or too restrictive in impeding where offenders can live.  

False Perceptions 

Psychologists who have treated sex offenders, such as Gerry Blasingame, chair of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, say the impetus behind the laws — the belief that offenders who have been released will continue to seek out child victims who they do not know — is more perception than reality. Most perpetrators abuse children they know; just one in 10 perpetrators of child sex abuse is a stranger to the victim.
 

Action Item: 9 months is TOO Long for a Virginia Attorney General Opinion to Go Unanswered, it’s Time to Reform the AG Opinion Process

VA Attorney General
Mark Herring

Three weeks ago I posted about my unanswered Virginia Attorney General Opinion from August 2015 here. 

In early April Delegate Dave LaRock filed suit against the VA A.G. to get an answer to his ignored September 2015 AG Opinion submission, approximately one month later he got his answer.

AG Herring Issues Advisory Opinion to Avoid LaRock Lawsuit, May 10, 2016
 
I’ve been waiting for an AG Opinion since last August. 

What is the Attorney General Opinion submitted by a Virginia Senator for me? It was to answer this simple question:

Can Registered Sex Offenders attend church if there is a daycare and/or school on the property? 

The two Virginia statutes in question in this matter are:
§ 18.2-370.5. - Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property
§ 18.2-370.2. - Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children on School and Daycare Property 

For years the Virginia State Police who is the official manager and monitor of our RSO’s won’t give me an answer to this question including as recently as September 2015. 

Numerous Virginia Delegates and Senators have been unable or unwilling to give me an answer to this question over the last 7-8 years.  

Per Virginia law § 2.2-505 , citizens can not submit requests for an A.G. Opinion but Virginia Legislators, the Governor, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency can. 

My own Delegate, who offered in late-2011 to submit an AG Opinion for me, never did. Then last July I asked him both in an email and in-person and my request was ignored. 

In August 2015 I found two Senators and a Delegate who were all willing to make the AG submission, so one Senator did. 

Its 9 months later and there has been no Opinion filed by the Virginia AG’s Office in regards to this inquiry. 

The Virginia Senator that filed this Opinion in August has not answered my email’s or phone calls over the last 5 weeks. All I want to know is if the AG’s office has advised the patron if they are refusing to make a determination OR if the submission is still open and being worked on 9 months later. 

The Virginia ACLU has known about this submission since it was made back in August, they were very interested in learning what the AG’s Office decided, but they too have not taken any action on this 9 month-long unanswered submission.
 
I don’t have the financial means to sue the A.G. as Delegate La Rock did so I’m left standing alone with no answers for 22,300+ Virginians and no one in authority or with the legal means is willing to help me get the answer.

Thousands of Virginia RSO's are either, attending church and committing an arbitrary felony OR they have stopped attending church because they are worried it would be a felony.  Both scenarios are unacceptable, we need to know if it’s legal or illegal to go to church!
 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Justice Policy Journal Spring 2016 Volume Includes…. Bad Data: How government agencies distort statistics on sex-crime recidivism AND Deconstructing a Puzzling Relationship: Sex Offender Legislation, the Crimes that Inspired It, and Sustained Moral Panic


I just learned about the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice http://www.cjcj.org/index.html  today! Thanks to a long-time follower/supporter.

They have many “Sex Offender” papers going back many years. 

So I’m just sharing the two most recent pieces here, you can search their website for more. 

Enjoy. 

Mary Devoy
 

From the Justice Policy Journal Volume 13, Number 1 - Spring 2016 http://www.cjcj.org/news/10396#Bad Data 

Bad Data: How government agencies distort statistics on sex-crime recidivism
By Alissa R. Ackerman and Marshall Burns

Abstract: Data on the recidivism rates of individuals convicted of sex crimes varies considerably across studies. Both academic papers and government reports have assessed various forms of recidivism for this group, with different findings. The vast majority of the public believes that people convicted of sex crimes will inevitably reoffend and this is the premise upon which most related legislation is based. However, this premise is based on false and misleading information contained in numerous published reports. After a review of 287 studies of recidivism statistics, we selected seven that exhibit the most egregious misinformation and that have been the most influential in shaping governmental policy. We examine these seven studies thoroughly to better understand their definitions, interpretation, and presentation of recidivism data. We then seek to resolve discrepancies and to determine what can legitimately be said about sex-crime recidivism. We then discuss new revelations about recidivism and sex crimes vis-a-vis our analysis and we offer suggestions for future research. 

Deconstructing a Puzzling Relationship: Sex Offender Legislation, the Crimes that Inspired It, and Sustained Moral Panic
By Nancy G. Calleja

Abstract: Sex offender legislation has expanded significantly over the last two decades with progressively harsher sanctions and with the inclusion of juvenile offenders. However, several of the crimes upon which the legislation was established are only loosely related to the resulting laws, and none of the crimes were perpetrated by juveniles—making it even more difficult to understand the intent and scope of the legislation today. This article re-examines the history of sex offender legislation since the 1990’s and the crimes that served as catalysts for the legislation. Moral panic and its potential role in current sex offender legislation is briefly explored while an argument is made for the exclusion of juvenile offenders in sex offender legislation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Virginia State Police, Virginia Delegates and Senators and the Virginia Governor and Secretary of Public Safety All Know that VSP Re-Registration Letters Aren’t Being Delivered and Yet They Do Nothing to Fix the Problem and Virginia RSO’s are Being Convicted of Failures-to-Register



Dear Virginia Delegates and Senators, 

For 8 years I've made you aware of the Virginia State Police certified re-registration letters not arriving at all, arriving with less than a day to comply or arriving too late....... in fact my latest email about these problems was sent to you on 04/23/16 (it’s below). 

I've also advised you (many times) that the VSP REMOVED the next re-registration due date for our RSO's from the VSP website years ago for no reason making it impossible for our RSO's to know when to expect their next letter. 

And last autumn (I learned) the VSP stopped giving our RSO's a copy of the completed re-registration form when they go to a VSP Barracks, so they no longer have a receipt to prove they re-registered on time. 

You know these issues exist, the VSP knows these issues exist and yet those who have the ability to fix these problems have failed to take ANY action. 

And now today, this......
No Excuse for Late Sex Offender Reregistration, May 4, 2016 By Deborah Elkins http://valawyersweekly.com/2016/05/04/no-excuse-for-late-sex-offender-reregistration/
Although defendant had reregistered as a sex offender every 90 days for the last 15 years, and testified that he was late two weeks in reregistering because he had not received his letter for reregistration from the Virginia State Police, the Court of Ap­peals affirms his conviction for knowingly failing to timely reregister. While Va. ... 

I am furious beyond words. I have been raising this issue to ALL of  you, to the Virginia State Police and to two Administrations for 7-8 years and ALL OF YOU have willfully ignored me and the problems which has resulted in countless RSO's be charged and convicted for failures-to-register when the circumstances that lead to the failure was 100% out of their control. 
 
CURTIS DWAYNE BROCKINGTON v. COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

The current system for re-registration in Virginia is intentionally failing our RSO's and you know it and still you do nothing.
 
Mary Davye Devoy 

 
------ Message ------
From: "Mary Davye Devoy"
Sent: 4/23/2016 9:16:51 AM
Subject: The Latest Example of VSP RSO Data Typos and USPS Failures with RSO Re-Registration Letters 

Dear Virginia Delegates, Senators and Administration Members, 

Good morning. 

For the last 7-8 years I have been emailing you (my most recent email’s dated 12/30/15, 11/11/15 and 10/20/15)  examples of:
  1. The Virginia State Police USPS certified letters not being delivered on purpose by USPS employees
  2. The Virginia State Police USPS certified letters being lost or misplaced at the local Post Offices
  3. The Virginia State Police USPS certified letters extremely high postage cost per year (2015- $584,333.00)
  4. The Virginia State Police USPS certified letters arriving with less than 2 days to meet the deadline or the deadline falling on a weekend or holiday so the recipient is unable to meet the deadline and will be facing a felony
  5. Why Virginia should switch to a rotating re-registration system like Michigan
  6. Why Virginia needs to electronically enter all re-registrations and data changes instead of hand written forms on carbon paper that are sent to Midlothian to be hand-entered into the database by a second person…. which as of late-2015 the VSP no longer gives our RSO’s a copy as a receipt to prove they made the update/change OR that they re-registered on time.  
Not to mention all the email’s I’ve sent you with examples of the Virginia State Police (VSP) giving inaccurate, conflicting and reckless information or directions to Virginia’s RSO’s, their website not having hours, holidays or PDF’s of forms and they removed critical information (the next re-registration due date) from every RSO’s online posting years ago. 

A recent synopsis of VSP RSO USPS certified letter issues can be found here: http://goo.gl/jtfmIk 

Well, this morning I received the below email from a Non-Violent RSO, his VSP certified letter for March 2016 couldn’t be located at his Post Office because the VSP had a typographical error from the last update this man made with the VSP. Probably because all VSP data changes are written by hand by the VSP on carbon paper and then read and entered by hand by a second VSP employee after it’s traveled through the VSP inter-office mail system. 

He is now facing a new felony because of a VSP typographical error that he has no control over, a VSP mail back-log and because of an incompetent USPS certified letter filing system, NOT because he failed to update his change of address or because he failed to re-register on time. 

If sending this email to VSP Leadership would result in positive changes in the current system, then I would send it to them. But I quickly learned last October when I notified the VSP of multiple RSO issues and examples instead of correcting the pattern that lead to the problem the VSP was more concerned with locating the specific RSO to advise them they were confused or incorrect or in some cases they shouldn’t be contacting me.