Thursday, October 8, 2015

The 3rd Virginia Parole Review Commission Meeting and 1st Virginia State Crime Commission Meeting for 2015

Over many of the last few weeks I have participated in and attended multiple meetings.

Including with a civil rights group, with Administration members and with individual Virginia Legislators all on RSO issues in Virginia.

Now I can not post about these private meetings but I want you to know this is what I do on the off-season to educate, looking for sponsors, address current issues/problems and to ramp up for the upcoming General Assembly session. And I do it at my own cost; I do not ask you for donations all I ever ask is that you take action on Action Items……and there could be some upcoming Action Items resulting from some of these recent meetings. 

Last week I attended two public meetings and I missed a third public meeting the week before due to a conflict, all of the Presentations for these 3 public meetings are supposed to be online so everyone can view them. 

They were:
1. The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission Meeting on September 21st, which I missed.
2. The Virginia Parole Review Commission Meeting on September 28th, which I attended. All presentations were supposed to be posted at but as of 10/08 that page has not been created. I even called the Parole Board web-contact last week asking when the page would be created and my phone call was the first she was hearing of a page.
3. The Virginia State Crime Commission Meeting on September 29th, which I attended. 
There isn’t really anything specific for me to highlight about any of these 3 meetings but I am monitoring what all three groups are working on for possible legislation in January 2016 and if anything is mentioned at one of their upcoming meetings that is significant I will post about it.

Mary Devoy

Halloween 2015 is 3 Weeks Away, Will the Virginia Department of Corrections be Promoting the Myth-Based Operation Trick-or-Treat AND Operation Lights-Out with a Press Release or Not?

Last year during the VA CURE Conference (a week and a half after Halloween) I asked, Director of Reentry Programs for the Virginia Department of Corrections (VA-DOC ) Ms. Scott Richeson about the VA-DOC Halloween Programs for Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s). 

I did this because in 2014 the VA-DOC regurgitated the same Press Release (see above) to every media outlet in the Commonwealth on the DOC Halloween programs Operation Trick-or-Treat AND Operation Lights-Out for those RSO’s under DOC Probation.  

I also learned last year that some RSO’s under VA-DOC supervision were instructed to post signs on their front doors (see below) to stop trick-or-treaters from ringing their bell or knocking on their door. 

I pointed out these programs and the Press Releases announcing them as successful are in fact “barriers” for the successful reentry of former offenders who are also RSO’s, running contrary to the message the VA-DOC was sending at the Virginia CURE conference of fact-based programs to create successful reentries for former-offenders. 

Knowing that Halloween 2015 is just 3 weeks away and anticipating that the VADOC probably plans to continue the charade of promoting these VA-DOC programs as preventative measures when the VADOC is actually perpetuating an urban-myth that everyone listed on the Virginia Registry is looking for new victims and Halloween provides them with an opportunity that they don’t have the other 364 days of the year (even though RSO's recidivism rate is the 2nd LOWEST of ALL crimes) I have contacted the Virginia DOC and Sect. of Public Safety. Maybe 2015 will finally be the end to this madness! 

Before these VA-DOC programs existed and since, there has NOT been one case of a Registered Sex Offender abducting, molesting or killing a child or an adult on October 31st. But yet year-after-year the Administration continues to advertise and implement these Halloween programs that deny former-offenders, their spouses and children from participating in Halloween activities on the holiday, that holds a felony over their head (even if the original conviction was a misdemeanor) if they fail to show up to the Probation office for the “lock-down” or to keep their lights off. These steps are not preventative but they are punitive because by doing so the Commonwealth  is telling all of their neighbors that the ex-offender, no matter how long ago their conviction was, no matter how much therapy they participated and no matter what debt they’ve paid to their victim and society……….the State is highlighting them as a significant danger on Halloween because they go the extra mile to notify the local news stations and the newspapers so a story is run about these smoke-screen VA-DOC programs.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dr. Karen Franklin Blog: The Mysterious Nature of the "Juvenile Sex Offender" - New Research Casts Doubt on Practical Meaningfulness of Emergent Category

The mysterious nature of the "juvenile sex offender”, October 1, 2015
New research casts doubt on practical meaningfulness of emergent category

If you ask John Q. Public about the public safety risk posed by a juvenile who has been arrested for a sex offense, chances are he will estimate too high. The public is woefully uninformed when it comes to risk of sexual reoffense in general, and nowhere is the gap between reality and media-driven anxiety wider than in the case of juvenile sex offenders. 

Michael Caldwell, a prominent expert on juvenile delinquency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has decided to take the bull by the horns and nail down an accurate risk estimate. His goal is to collect and analyze every single study that exists, whether from peer-reviewed and published research or government studies. So far, he's put together an impressive 88 data sets comprising a whopping 25,716 juvenile sex offenders.*

The data are remarkably consistent: Overall, people who committed a sex offense prior to age 18 have less than a 5% risk of being arrested or convicted for another sex offense as an adult.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Elizabeth Nolan Brown: The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs……And the Results Will be Just as Disastrous, for "Perpetrators" and "Victims" Alike

In Virginia any proposal for a new crime that exceeds the cost of $50,000 requires a Fiscal Impact Statement be included with the legislation. 

The cost for one prisoner for one year in Virginia as of FY2104 was $30,397. 

Before 2014 Human Trafficking Bills were just lumped in with the Sex Offender Bill Impact Statement tallies, 2013 , 2012 and 2011 . 

Per the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission that is responsible for the Virginia General Assembly Fiscal Impact Statements in 2014 a new category of Human Trafficking was created and it was the #7 of ALL requested fiscal impact statements with a total of 11 by Virginia Delegates and Senators.  

In 2015 per VCSC Human Trafficking Fiscal Impact Statements jumped to #2 of ALL requested fiscal impact statement with a total of 37 by Virginia Delegates and Senators. 

The “moral crusade” has not just arrived in Virginia; it’s in full-swing! 
I wonder how many will be submitted by Virginia Legislators for 2016.

The below article is a MUST Read! 

Mary Devoy

The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on DrugsNovember 2015 Issue
And the results will be just as disastrous, for "perpetrators" and "victims" alike.
By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Friday, September 25, 2015

Action Item Against Any Legislation from the October 2015 VSP Report -The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registry Requirements on Public Safety

This year the Virginia Legislature did NOT move forward a bill SJ282 for the Virginia Secretary of Homeland Security to study the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.  

The Virginia State Crime Commission or even an independent group like the Governors Parole Review Commission would have been a better choice in my opinion but a thorough study (9+ months) of the last 20 years of the Virginia State Police (VSP) Registry, the regulations and the restrictions by an unbiased group is what Virginia deserved, like Connecticut is doing. Where public meetings are held, experts in the field of Sex Offender sentencing, treatment and reintegration present research and proven processes and where members of the public can make comments. 

Well, that’s all a distant dream now. 

The Virginia State Police has whipped together a report to the Governor AND the Senate Committee on Rules that they have the gall to title The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registry Requirements on Public Safety$file/RD247.pdf 

In the end the VSP has used this report cloaked under the extremely misleading title as their wish-list for the state of Virginia to be become certified as Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office and to make their job (the VSP) easier by removing all those annoying “trigger dates” (when the law became the law and applies to RSO’s from then on but not before). 

Also the Department that is tasked with the monitoring and managing of the Registry and those listed upon it is the very last group that should pull together a report on its "effectiveness". Outside sources should be evaluating the VSP, our Registry, our RSO’s and our laws. 

You don’t put somebody in charge of a job, when they have a conflict of interest. 

Now, I’m not saying this report is not worthy of consideration BUT I find approximately 75% of it to be biased. (I cover the specific points below) 

I have asked the Governor’s office and all the Virginia Legislators running for re-election in November not to react with knee-jerk legislation in January 2016. 

I have asked them all to take this report and form a 12-30 month study of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry by a multidisciplinary group like the Parole Commission. Where experts from all points of this field give presentations to the group and proposals and solutions are discussed and considered. 

I am asking all of you to please contact Governor McAuliffe asking him to form this Commission or Taskforce to begin an extensive study in 2016 AND to veto any legislation that passes the G.A. January-March 2016 that comes from this VSP Report until a thorough study is complete. Ask Governor McAuliffe

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dr. Emily Horowitz Speaks at RSOL 2015 Conference: Protecting Our Kids How Sex Offender Laws are Failing Us

Dr. Emily Horowitz -Sociology, Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies St. Francis College
Protecting Our Kids How Sex Offender Laws are Failing Us 
Video: 56:51 June 2015 RSOL Conference:

Dr. Horowitz’s book-

Criminal and Civil Rights Attorney Eric Tennen Speaks at RSOL 2015 Conference: Are Risk-Based Registration Schemes Worth the Risk?

Eric Tennen -Attorney Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Matters
Are Risk-Based Registration Schemes Worth the Risk?
Video: 1:08:46 June 2015 RSOL Conference:

Criminal Attorney Richard Gladden Speaks at RSOL 2015 Conference: Registration of “Online Identifiers” Violates the Constitution

Richard Gladden - Attorney Criminal Defense
Registration of “Online Identifiers” Violates the Constitution

Yes Virginia, There is a Better Way to Monitor and Manage Our RSO’s: Commerce City Colorado Police Want Sex Offenders to be Employed and Contribute to the Community

Commerce City wants sex offenders to be employed and contribute to the community, September 23, 2015
By Russell Haythorne

COMMERCE CITY, Colo - What to do with sex offenders once they've served their time and are back in your neighborhood?
Tracking them is one thing -- making sure they stay employed and stay out of trouble is another.

Because of that, Commerce City is taking a new approach to keeping tabs on sex offenders.

“The biggest part of these guys not re-offending - is whether or not they're employed,” said Commerce City Police detective Christian Rasmussen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Sex Offenders Have 1st Amendment Right to Photograph Children

As most readers know I have been advocating since the 2008 Virginia General Assembly, that’s 7 sessions so far.

Back in 2010 there was a bill HB23 that was proposed it would have created a new crime, if a Sex Offender took a photograph of a child (in specific public places, many that RSO’s are already legally prohibited from) without the permission of the child's parent they'd be guilty of a Felony. 

The inspiration for HB23 came from a Registered Sex Offender who was taking photos of an 18 year old female in a Sam’s Club in Bristol VA, HB23 would not have prevented that instance from occurring  nor would it have made that specific act a crime.  

Now, back in 2010 I placed Action Items against this bill on the old RSOL of Virginia website (no longer up), I sent email’s to all 140 Virginia Legislators against this bill, I lobbied the halls of the GA building against this proposal and I drafted my public statement (which I still have) to be made at the first Committee hearing if it ever made it onto a hearing docket, it never did. HB23 "died on the vine" in 2010 with no Legislative action being taken. 

One of my many points in my opposition statement included this: 

I believe a bill such as this could and would end up resulting in possible public hysteria and public spectacles such as the example set forth this past Christmas. An award winning photographer was taking photos of children on Santa’s lap in a West Virginia mall. Angry parents accosted the photographer and demanded he delete his photos, he complied even though legally he didn’t have to. That was not sufficient to the angry mob so they found mall security and demanded they take the professional photographer into custody and security felt obligated to obey that angry mob. 

I really expected to see a duplicate or amended version the following year, but never did. Virginia Delegate Joseph P. Johnson who sponsored 2010’s HB23 retired at the end of 2013. 

Well, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (see article below) that a ban on RSO’s taking photographs in public places is 100% unconstitutional! 

You can bet I will keep this ruling on hand if any member of the Virginia Legislature ever proposes such a bill in the future. 

Mary Devoy

Court: Sex offenders have 1st Amendment right to photograph children, September 22, 2015

A Wisconsin law prohibiting registered sex offenders from photographing children in public violates their right to free speech, the state Court of Appeals held Tuesday. 

The decision by the Wausau-based District 3 court reversed the conviction of a 44-year-old Green Bay man who had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the non-pornographic photos. It also found the law unconstitutional on its face, not salvageable by a narrowed interpretation or severing part of the statute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

John Walsh Not Happy He’s Not Getting His Way, Plans to Name Names of Those Holding Up the Reauthorization of the Bill Named After His Murdered Son

A few reminders for those of you who think John Walsh is a great man. 

1. The person who is believed to have abducted and beheaded John Walsh’s son, Adam Walsh was Otis Toole. A drifter and serial killer with NO known history of sex crimes. So the Adam Walsh Act to publically register Sex Offenders in America is named after a victim who is not known to have been sexually abused by a killer who had no history of sexual abuse. 

2. John Walsh met Reve (his wife) when she was 16 years old (she got into the bar with a fake id) and Mr. Walsh was either 22 or 23 years old. He knew she was below the age of consent in New York and it is said he breathed a sigh of relief after she turned 17 years old many months after they began dating. So, if the Adam Walsh Act had existed in 1967 or 1968 Mr. Walsh would be a Registered Sex Offender today for any sexual contact he had with an under aged female, otherwise why did he "breathe a sigh of relief"?. 

3. Mr. Walsh has a history of inflating statistics of abducted and missing children in the U.S. AND the number of Unregistered/Absconded Sex Offenders to hype the danger level and to gain media attention and political support. He intentional ignores actual facts and statistics that don’t support his initiatives and he turns to fear-mongering to push through flawed laws and mandates. 

4. In 2006 Mr. Walsh told Senators to implant "exploding" chips in the anuses of sex offenders. He stated, "I said implant it in their anus and if they go outside the radius, explode it, that would send a big message." 

OK, now the latest on John Walsh’s petty tactics to get what he wants. 

Mary Devoy

John Walsh plans to name names to get bill named after son reauthorized, September 21, 2015
By Judy Kurtz

Frustrated by the gridlock in Congress, John Walsh is headed back to Capitol Hill. And this time, the former longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host says he’s ready to name names in order to get lawmakers to reauthorize a bill named after his son. 

“The Adam Walsh Act is stuck in that morass of Capitol Hill that’s only focused in on who’s going to be the next president,” Walsh says. “So I’m now going back to what I did since 1981, since my son was murdered: To walk the halls, and get senators and congressmen to get it out of committee and get it reauthorized. It was passed unanimously.”

Galen Baughman Became the First Person in Virginia to Win a Jury Trial and Secure Release from Civil Commitment as an SVP, Now He is a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow

For earlier information on Galen Baughman here are some older articles:
Some Va. sex offenders held long after sentence up November 19, 2011

How 'civil commitment' enables indefinite detention of sex offenders, September 26, 2013
Many sex offenders are held indefinitely past their sentence on a recidivism assessment that's almost impossible to challenge

Lox, bagels, juice and sex offenders: Why I invited two pariahs into my home, March 27, 2015

What is it Like to Have Brunch with Sex Offenders? April 4, 2015

Questionable Commitments, June 1, 2015

How Can This Indefinite Incarceration Policy Be Constitutional? September 18, 2015
By Donysha Smith
In the late 1980s, despite legal and ethical concerns, a few U.S. states began indefinitely detaining sex offenders, a practice known as civil commitment. Over the last 30 years, this model has spread across the nation. Now, America’s system of sex offender management is being called into question in courtrooms around the country and the court of public opinion. 2015 Soros Justice Fellow Galen Baughman is working to end this practice.

Tell us about the moment that moved you to advocacy. 

At 19, I was arrested and sent to prison for having a sexual relationship with a younger teenager. I spent the next nine years of my life behind bars, including four-and-a-half years in solitary confinement. When I completed my sentence, the Commonwealth of Virginia would not release me. Instead, they petitioned the court to indefinitely detain me through what is known as a civil commitment, on the theory that I would reoffend if released.

I was held in solitary confinement for over two years past my release date without a trial. As I sat in solitary, the only way I was able survive was to focus on creating purpose in my life. The thought of what I was going through not having some sort of meaning was unbearable. 

I finally had my day in court and became the first person in Virginia to win a jury trial and secure release from civil commitment. I decided to dedicate my life to advocating for the most marginalized people in our justice system and society. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Election Day November 3, 2015 in Virginia: Absentee Ballots are Already Being Accepted and Voter Registration Deadline is in 3 Weeks!

Every two years Virginias 100 Delegates run for re-election and every four years Virginias 40 Senators run for re-election.  

This November 3, 2015 ALL 140 seats are up for election 

  • Do you know what District you reside in?
  • Do you know who your current Delegate and Senator are? 
  • Have you ever emailed, called them or attended one of their public events?
  • Are they running for reelection this November?
I would hope you answered ‘YES’ to to the first 3 questions. But if not that’s OK, it’s never too late. 

To find our what District you live in just enter your home address at this link,  it will tell you who your current State Delegate and State Senator are as well as your one Congress member plus your House and your Senate District numbers. 

Then to  learn who the candidates running in you two Districts (House and Senate)  go here,  for the full list of candidates pages 1-26 are House candidates and pages 27-37 are Senate candidates in order of district numbers. 

Are you registered to vote? The deadline to register to vote in this year’s election is Oct. 13th at 5pm: . 

Are you planning to submit an absentee ballot? Last Friday September the 18th was the first day for absentee ballots. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 27 by-mail and Oct. 31 in-person: .

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reminder of Action Item #2 of 2: Is the VSP Disseminating the New VSP Sex Offender Pamphlet in Your District?


I have heard from many of you in regards to the September 8, 2015 Action Item I posted and I thank you.

But there are still many areas of the State I have not heard from and I REALLY need to hear from as many of you as possible by next Monday September 21st because I am preparing for a meeting later in the week where I will be covering numerous VSP issues that I have raised over the last 7 years and proposing solutions that would benefit everyone and I must have accurate information and NOT just from a few portions of the Commonwealth but from all over. 

So if you have not already emailed me about Action Item #2, please click on the above link to read the original post and take action! 

Help me help you! 

Thank you. 

Mary Davye Devoy

Reminder of Action Item #1 of 2: Is the VSP Holding a Sex Offender Informational Training Class in Your District in the Next Few Months? If So, Have You Heard About It?


I have heard from many of you in regards to the September 8, 2015 Action Item I posted and I thank you. 

But there are still many areas of the State I have not heard from and I REALLY need to hear from as many of you as possible by next Monday September 21st because I am preparing for a meeting later in the week where I will be covering numerous VSP issues that I have raised over the last 7 years and proposing solutions that would benefit everyone and I must have accurate information and NOT just from a few portions of the Commonwealth but from all over. 

So if you have not already emailed me about Action Item #1, please click on the above link to read the original post and take action! 

Help me help you! 

Thank you. 

Mary Davye Devoy

Teen Sexting in America: “If it’s legal to have sex with an individual, it should be legal to consensually share explicit images with them”

The Moral Panic Over Sexting, September 2, 2015
Laws meant to protect young people from sexual predators are instead being used to charge them as felons and put them on sex-offender registries for life.
By Conor Friedersdorf

It is extremely common for American teenagers to text one another naked photographs. Much less frequently, they get caught. If they’re discovered by a parent or teacher, they might get off with a stern lecture or a suspension from school. In an alarming number of cases, however, adult strangers get ahold of the images and proceed to systematically destroy the lives of the young people involved. 

These destroyers are neither child pornographers nor pedophiles nor blackmailers. They are representatives of the criminal-justice system: police officers, prosecutors, and judges, often well-meaning, who prosecute kids as felonious sex-criminals, sometimes putting them on sex-offender registries for life. 

The latest teenagers to face this irrational treatment live in Cumberland County, North Carolina. In October of last year, during an unrelated investigation, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department seized the cell phone of a 17-year-old boy. He had a 17-year-old girlfriend. “While our investigators went through the phone they saw there were photos of himself and another person on the phone," Sergeant Sean Swain told a local news outlet. “Simple possession having it on your cell phone is a charge itself, and if you should send it out to another person that is another charge.” 

Now the boy faces five counts of “sexual exploitation of a minor” and the girl faces unspecified charges. Laws intended to protect kids are being used to prosecute them. 

Had these images gone undiscovered they’d likely have done no harm at all to these young people. But thanks to the authorities, the boy has now had his photograph and name––which I am withholding but is easily found––published in the local newspaper and broadcast on television. He has been suspended from his high school football team. For months, he has had to deal with the intense anxiety stoked by facing charges of this sort and the prospect of life as a registered sex offender. 

The girl has not been named in the local press. Nevertheless, her parents, teachers and classmates surely know her situation. She is probably humiliated and anxious about the legal trouble that she is in. What is Cumberland County Sheriff Earl R. Butler thinking? Why would District Attorney Willian West decline to exercise prosecutorial discretion in a case like this? In other jurisdictions, authorities have exercised discretion in sexting cases. If the young man “is too young to send pictures of his own body, is he not also too young to be made a social pariah?” Robby Soave asks. “The photos were private, and remained that way, until the cops got hold of them. If there’s public humiliation here, police intervention is the cause.” Unless they’ve inexplicably withheld details from the public, law enforcement’s case seems like a clear display of awful judgment. 

These authorities would hardly be the first adults to behave irresponsibly in a similar situation. In Virginia, police secured a warrant to take a 17-year-old to the hospital and forcibly induce an erection in order to see if he sexted a photo of his penis.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tamara Rice Lave and Justin McCrary: Are Sexually Violent Predators Dangerous Enough?

Are Sexually Violent Predators Dangerous Enough? September 15, 2015
By Tamara Rice Lave and Justin McCrary

On June 15, U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank struck down Minnesota's law allowing for the civil commitment of so-called sexually violent predators. SVP laws allow a person to be locked away indefinitely after he has completed his maximum prison sentence. Twenty states and the federal government have passed such laws, and over 5,000 SVPs are incarcerated at an annual cost in excess of 450 million dollars. 

Judge Frank found Minnesota's law unconstitutional because it continued to hold people after they were no longer dangerous. The next day, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that California's SVP law did not violate the Constitution because, as Judge Susan Graber wrote, "a state rationally may decide that sexually violent crime is qualitatively more dangerous than other kinds of violent crime."  

These cases came out differently in part because Judge Frank considered evidence of SVP dangerousness, while the Ninth Circuit for the most part did not. Shirking facts is nothing new when it comes to sex offender laws. In Kansas v Hendricks, the U.S. Supreme Court simply accepted as true the legislature's claim that SVPs are "extremely dangerous" and their "likelihood of engaging in repeat acts of predatory sexual violence is high."

Yet dangerousness is critical to the constitutionality of SVP laws. Many people support putting away sex offenders forever, but the Constitution prohibits a person from being punished twice for the same crime. Legally, a state may not hold a sex offender past his release date because it feels he deserves more time, but it may civilly commit him if it can prove that he is mentally ill and dangerous. 

In a 2013 paper published in the Brooklyn Law Review, we questioned this central premise -- that there is a small, readily identifiable segment of the population so dangerous public safety demands they be locked away. If this claim were true we would expect to see what criminologists term an "incapacitation effect" -- in other words, removing these dangerous people from the community should have a negative impact on the rate of crimes we believe they are at risk of committing.

Dr. Karen Franklin Blog: As Courts Censure Civil Detention Practices [Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators], is it Time for Professionals to Speak Up? By David S. Prescott

As courts censure civil detention practices, is it time for professionals to speak up?
Guest commentary by David S. Prescott, LICSW*
September 14, 2015

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Missouri's civil commitment program is unconstitutional, the second such court decision in three months. For readers unfamiliar with the US civil commitment laws (AKA “SVP” laws), the short version is that 20 states and the federal government have laws that allow states to indefinitely confine sex offenders who are assessed as having a mental diagnosis that predisposes them to commit future sexual violence. There are controversies at every possible turn in these laws, their processes, and subsequent programs, and the US Supreme Court decisions allowing civil commitment have passed by as little as one vote. Because the author was an expert witness in the Missouri case, this essay looks more at the big-picture issues rather than at that specific case. What seems clear is that there is an evolving consensus in the courts that civil commitment as it is being practiced in many places is unconstitutional and that governments and programs must work together closely to rein in widespread abuses.

As in the Minnesota case decided this June, the Missouri case involved a treatment program in operation for many years (roughly 15 in Missouri’s case and 20 in Minnesota’s) from which few have been released and no one has ever been fully discharged. On one hand it is clear that some people who are civilly committed are truly dangerous; I have worked with men who openly vow to re-offend. On the other hand, no bona fide form of treatment takes a minimum of 15 years to complete. Add to this a political climate that is at best unconducive to genuine rehabilitation, and the die for these court decisions was cast long, long ago.

For all of our profession's advances in assessment and treatment, we seem to be producing no improved outcomes whatsoever in the civil commitment arena. A study that has not garnered the amount of discussion that it deserves is Grant Duwe’s 2014 research finding that only 28% of a sample of civilly committed offenders would likely have re-offended again in their lifetimes, raising questions as to whether states have cast their nets too wide. In a nation in which “Blackstone’s Formulation” -- "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" -- is taught in schools as a fundamental principle of justice, the practice of holding thousands of people indefinitely beyond the expiration of their criminal sentences ought to give anyone pause. In fact, the principle behind Blackstone’s Formulation goes back to antiquity. For example, in the Bible, Genesis 18:23-24 quotes Abraham as asking: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?” What are the implications for civil commitment?

John Oliver Show on HBO: Public Defenders in America....... What About Public Defenders in Virginia?

September 13, 2015 

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

I’ve done some research on Public Defenders in Virginia since first viewing the above. 

In Virginia the appointment of a Public Defender or Court Appointed Lawyer is only permitted in cases in which the accused is facing the possibility of a jail sentence AND is deemed to be indigent. 

Virginia has strict financial guidelines for determining whether someone is eligible to have a Public Defender or Court Appointed Lawyer and those seeking appointed counsel must fill out a financial questionnaire regarding assets, and do so under oath and penalty of perjury. 

Some jurisdictions in Virginia have a Public Defender office and other jurisdictions do not.  Jurisdictions which do not have a Public Defender office have a list of private lawyers who have agreed to be appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants.   

Virginia Public Defender offices are government offices staffed by government employees who are paid by the Commonwealth of Virginia - just like the people working in the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney. Virginia Public Defenders are paid a salary and have the seemingly incomprehensible task of handling essentially every case involving an indigent criminal defendant, regardless of workload.  They simply don't have the option to say they are too busy and can't handle another case.  Instead, they have to take on all the cases that come in and do the best they can to provide the best possible representation.

Private Virginia Court Appointed lawyers are not government employees, but rather lawyers who work in the private sector and have agreed to represent indigent criminal defendants in Virginia for embarrassingly low compensation.  

  1. In Virginia if you have been found guilty OR you take a plea deal of guilt (94%+ of criminal cases in Virginia) the defendant per code (see below), will be billed the cost for the use of the public defender. If you are found not guilty, you do not owe any costs.
  2. In Virginia if you are deaf and indigent and need an interpreter in court, an interpreter will be appointed and it appears per code (see below) the defendant will NOT be billed for the serviced based on a guilty or not guilty outcome.
  3. In Virginia if you do not speak English and are indigent and need an interpreter in court per code (see below), the judge decides if you need an interpreter or not and the cost is paid by the state whether you are found guilty or not guilty. But, in 2015 there was legislation to try and mandate anyone found guilty (including a plea deal) would be required to pay for their English interpreter, that bill failed.
  4. In Virginia per code (see below) if you have been found guilty OR you take a plea deal of guilt the cost of the court recording and transcripts are billed to the defendant.
  5. In Virginia per code (see below) if you if you have been found guilty OR you take a plea deal of guilt the cost of the gathering of medical evidence and any medical tests are billed to the defendant.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Colleges Don’t Need More Sex-Assault Legislation Including a Scarlet Letter [Prominent Notation] Marking Their College Transcripts, Forever!

That every employer for the next 50 years will read

More on Recent AND Absurd College Sexual Assault Proposals: 

Glenn Reynolds: A war on college men, September 14, 2015
Jared Polis’ idea to deprive college men of due process highlights toxic campus culture of discrimination against men.

Rep. Jared Polis Thinks Colleges Should Be Able to Expel Students When They're Only 20% Sure a Rape Happened, September 10, 2015
In a follow-up interview with Reason, Polis explains why he wants to let colleges expel innocent men.  includes a link to Polis’ House hearing comments at the bottom of the page 

Better that five innocent students get expelled than one guilty student stay enrolled, September 11, 2015

The biggest problem with Rep. Jared Polis' sex assault comments, September 11, 2015

Campus sexual assault hearing applauds witch-hunt mentality, September 10, 2015

Plus this story on Virginia!: 

Will Virginia’s new sexual assault laws prevent future attacks? September 9, 2015
Virginia officials hope a new ‘law enforcement approach’ will help curb campus sexual assault

Original Post:

Just a reminder to readers, in May or June (depending on which article you read) Virginia became the FIRST state with SB1193 (HB1888 failed) to add “a prominent notation” to student’s official transcripts because of a sexual assault claim against them if they are suspended , permanently dismissal, or they withdraw from institution during the investigation. The final version applies to a limited range of violent sexual offenses, and the notation is only required to say that the student violated the school's code of conduct, BUT Colleges are free to add more detail if they wish, and you know they will! The “notation” remains on the transcript UNLESS the student is “exonerated” of the allegation; well we all know that is usually an impossible feat so in the end 99% of sexual allegations will become part of a student’s permanent record.  

There were many other Campus Sexual Assault Bills at this year's session plus the Governor’s Taskforces recommendations. 

Today I found the below article, it’s a bit late to post but it speak volumes against Virginia’s “prominent notation” law. 

Mary Devoy 

We’ve defended lots of campus sexual assault cases, so we know just how unfair they are, July 24, 2015
By Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser

After reading about attempts to regulate how college campuses handle suspected sexual assault cases, Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser, partners at Kaiser, LeGrand & Dillon PLLC in Washington, D.C., who have worked on such cases, responded with their opinion: 

If the government wants to give someone a speeding ticket, the hearing a person deserves is not as extensive as if the government wants to give that person life in prison. That should be uncontroversial – the harsher the punishment, the more extensive you want the process to be.

This principle is rarely applied in the world of campus sexual assault. And it’s fully on display in the recent move by some jurisdictions to require that a finding that a student committed a sexual assault stay on that student’s transcript permanently. 

In the 2015 legislative year, as The Washington Post reported, 26 states – and now the District of Columbia – are considering laws addressing campus sexual assault. 

Among others, the District of Columbia’s version includes a “scarlet letter” provision. These laws would require colleges and universities to brand the transcripts of any student convicted of sexual misconduct with a note saying the student committed a sexual assault. The transcript note could never be removed.