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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Thomas Sydney Turner v. Commonwealth of Virginia


Emailed to 140 Virginia Legislators and the Administration this morning

Virginia Delegates and Senators,

Good morning.
I had no plans on writing you today but I came across this article https://valawyersweekly.com/2018/04/27/no-similar-offense-needed-for-sexually-violent-label/ which led me to the decision http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavwp/0826172.pdf

The first thought I had was something I’ve said in the past. That the Virginia State Police who owns the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and manages the people listed on it should NOT be the one to decide a newly relocated Registered Sex Offenders classification.  I have learned over these last 11 years that the VSP wants more people on the Registry, they want them to remain on it for life with no opportunity for removal and they like it when you pass new SO restrictions and regulations retroactively. Allowing the VSP to decide if an RSO is Non-Violent or Violent is really a conflict of interest.

The second thing that came to mind was the VSP arbitrarily REMOVED the next re-registration dates from all VSP RSO postings on their Registry back in 2012 or 2013 without approval from Virginia Legislature. Why? I believe those dates helped the RSO’s stay compliant and the VSP hasn’t shown they help RSO’s know the rules.

Attached to this email you will find the Virginia State Police SP-236 form. This copy is from 2016 when they made some changes, it would be printed on legal sized paper. This is the exact form RSO’s sign upon their first registration and then sign anytime their information (residence, employment, email, vehicle, etc) changes. Whereas the SP-236A is the short form that gets mailed out for re-registrations.

The VSP Troopers fill out the SP-236 form, NOT the RSO.

The Troopers hand-write the information, they do not type it.

The Troopers are always in a rush and as I’ve shared with many of you over the years some have real attitudes towards the RSO’s. You may remember an issue a few years back where a Trooper flat-out refused to take John’s photograph and then we watched that same Trooper through another RSO’s driver’s license back at him.

This type of environment results in Virginia RSO’s not asking questions, trying to interpret the Troopers handwriting or confirming the correct check boxes are checked.

The RSO's don't dare doddle to read the entire form or to ask questions even when they can't read the Troopers handwriting. RSO's sign it and they leave.

The RSO is given a carbon copy of the form, which is almost always illegible. How do I know this? Because I have retained EVERY SP-236 carbon John’s signed over the last 11 years and you can NOT decipher what the Trooper wrote, if it was accurate or even Johns signature. You may remember an issue many years back when a Troopers handwriting was misinterpreted at VSP Midlothian Headquarters by the person entering the data into the VSP Registry and his email address was typed incorrectly, officially John was responsible for the typo but the carbon copy we had was so illegible who knew what part of the email address on the paper was incorrect or if it was just mistyped by the person reading it.

As for the SP-236A’s filed in-person at a re-registration the VSP no longer makes a Xerox copy for RSO’s they stopped that practice back in 2014 or 2015. So now RSO’s who don’t have a camera phone (remember some RSO’s could be prohibited from even owning a camera phone) with them at the time of re-registration have no proof they came in on time or at all. Why did the VSP stop making copies of the re-registration forms? We don’t know.

Now over the years I have heard from hundreds of RSO and I have to tell you many have learning disabilities, some are illiterate and many are elderly with memory and vision issues. I’ve even been contacted by a few blind and deaf RSO’s.

Monday, April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018 Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission meeting: How Many “Sex Offender’ Bills Were Proposed at the 2018 Virginia General Assembly?


Today was the first Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission meeting of 2018; they usually hold 4 meetings per year and I always attend the first one because that’s’ where they discuss Legislation from the most recent General Assembly session. The VCSC website will post the presentations/data from today’s meeting online at some point in the next few days (maybe weeks) but right now it’s not online.

The first VCSC meeting always includes how many Bills (legislation) were filed and in what categories they fell into. 

Now the VCSC tracks the Bills that have Fiscal Impact Statements (FIS) because their staff has to provide the statements prior to, during and after session.

The VCSC also captures the most popular/ “Top 10” requested Bills w/ an FIS, and that’s varied from year to year, in earlier years it was just the “Top 3” types of Bills. 

Not every Bill has a financial cost which means a FIS would not be needed, so the VCSC’s annual count of Bills by Type/Category is not the grand total for each category, in fact some categories show zero but that doesn’t mean there weren’t Bills in those categories that year. Either the Bill count with FIS’s was so low they didn’t make the Top 10 List OR there were Bills with no FIS.  

Every year for the last 14 Virginia General Assembly sessions the category of “Sex Offender” has had a high enough number of Bills being filed the VCSC has included them. NO other category of Legislation in Virginia in the last 14 sessions has made the VCSC count EVERY year.  

A bit of history for those who aren’t familiar with FIS’s. 

              Code of Virginia § 30-19.1:4 (Fiscal Impact Statements): 

v  As of July 1, 2000, the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission must prepare a fiscal impact statement for any bill that would result in a net increase in the population of offenders housed in state adult correctional facilities (prisons).

v  As of July 1, 2002, the impact statement must:
§  Include an analysis of the impact on local and regional jails as well as state and local community corrections programs; and
§  Detail any necessary adjustments to the sentencing guidelines 

v  The Commission must estimate the increase in annual operating costs for prison facilities that would result if the proposal is enacted
§  A six-year projection is required
§  The highest single-year increase in operating costs is identified
§  This amount must be printed on the face of the bill 

If the Commission does not have sufficient information to project the impact, § 30-19.1:4 states that the words "Cannot be determined" must be printed on the face of the bill. 

v  For each law enacted that results in a net increase in the prison population, a one-year appropriation must be made
§  Appropriation is equal to the highest single-year increase in operating costs during the six years following enactment 

v  Appropriations made pursuant to § 30-19.1:4 are deposited into the Corrections Special Reserve Fund 

v  The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) prepares a fiscal impact estimate for any bill that would result in a net increase in the juvenile population committed to the state
§  DJJ provides this information to the Commission and a combined statement is submitted to the General Assembly 

v  The requirement for an impact statement includes, but is not limited to, proposals that:
1)    Add new crimes for which imprisonment is authorized;
2)   Increase the periods of imprisonment authorized for existing crimes;
3)   Raise the classification of a crime from a misdemeanor to a felony;
4)   Impose mandatory terms of imprisonment; or
5)   Modify the law governing release of prisoners 

v  The necessary appropriation is calculated by:
§  Estimating the net increase in the prison population likely to result from the proposal during the six years following enactment
§  Identifying the highest single-year population increase
§  Multiplying that figure by the cost of holding a prison inmate for a year (operating costs, excluding capital costs) 

v  Additional impact analyses may be conducted at the request of:
§  House Appropriations staff
§  Senate Finance staff
§  Department of Planning and Budget staff
§  Office of the Secretary of Public Safety 

OK back to today’s VCSC meeting. 
 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Advocacy Requires Flexibility, Respect, Integrity, Honesty, Transparency, the Ability to Forgive and Serious Grit




Both pieces got me thinking.  

I didn’t choose to be an RSO advocate, it chose me. I was somewhat forced into it. 

Some people think being an advocate is a cake-walk. 

Would I recommend it to anyone else? 

Just last week someone emailed who was considering becoming an advocate for RSO’s in Virginia, for a defunct group.

 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Comment / Question Box on the Virginia State Police Website is NOT a Legal or a Secure Means for RSO’s to Update Registration Information


Remember the February 9th Action Item I posted after the Baugh v. Commonwealth ruling?
Well I’ve heard the VSP is trying to convince some of you who took action that the comment / question /inquiry box (not an email address) on the VSP website can be used to register changes in your VSP SO data so that counts as an "electronic" means.
Ummmmmm, NO!
Read on.
Mary 

Emailed to all 140 Virginia Legislators and the Virginia Administration on March 17th.

Dear Virginia Delegates and Senators,

At the end of January 2018, the Court of Appeals of Virginia handed down a ruling on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry that had serious issues/flaws. It was Baugh v. Commonwealth
http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavwp/0152172.pdf.

It has to do with the 2007 Virginia law (
SB1071/HB2749) that mandated all Virginia Registered Sex Offenders must register any change (creation or deletion) in their email addresses with law enforcement within 30 minutes.

On page 12 of the Court decision it references
VA Code § 9.1-903. Registration procedures that an offender can update their email address “either in person or electronically”, so the 2011 Snyder decision from Michigan does not apply to Baugh.

The word ‘electronic’ may exist in VA Code, but it doesn’t exist as a viable option for Virginia’s RSO’s.

NO electronic system has EVER been established by the Virginia State Police in 11 years since the law was passed.

Just a reminder for anyone who doesn’t know:
·       All registration changes for Virginia’s RSO’s must be done in-person during the hours of operation of either their local law enforcement offices or the State Police offices.
·       You cannot call in changes via phone.
·       You cannot email in changes.
·       A SP-236 form must be filled out, signed, dated and thumb-printed for all RSO data changes.
·       Hours of operation for the State Police are 8:30AM-4:00PM Monday-Friday, no evenings and no weekends.
·       There are 12 observed holidays for the VSP.
Of the 12 holidays there are:
- 2 dedicated 4-day weekends.
- 4 dedicated 3-day weekends.
- Then if any of the remaining 4 holidays fall on a Saturday the office is closed that Friday and if it falls on a Sunday it’s closed that Monday.

As for the issues in trying to comply with current VA Code (30 minutes & electronically), I’ve found Patrons 3 different General Assembly sessions to try and fix it.

All 3 times there were 2 options.

To either change the 30 minutes to “3 business days” or “5 days” because of the limited office hours OR to have the Virginia State Police finally create an electronic system that could be an email address that sends a receipt or a portion of their website with a password for identifying it is the RSO submitting the information that also sends a receipt so RSO’s aren’t racing down the interstate trying to make the 30-minute window.
Here are those 3 Bills:
2011- HB1628  (Amended in House Militia, Police and Safety, left to die in House Appropriations)
2012- HB416       (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee)
2016-  SB243      (Failed to Report 6-9, in Senate Courts of Justice) 

Not only did all 3 Bills fail to pass though the Virginia Legislature but they failed specifically because the Virginia State Police Legislative Liaisons opposed them.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Virginia State Police Trooper Had Volunteer Advocate Mary Devoy Removed From Public VSOTA Presentation on VSP Sex Offender Investigations


Update:

On March 18th I filed a FOIA with the VSP to obtain a copy of the VSP Power Point presentation given by VSP Master Trooper Shaffier at the 2018 VSOTA Conference. 

Mary
 

Original Post:

Emailed at 4:00PM on 03/15/18:
 
Dear VSP Leadership and Secretary of Public Safety Moran, 

Back in January I signed up to attend the 2018 VSOTA Conference that began yesterday and ends tomorrow. 

The conference nor any of the presentations require any specific credential’s or certifications to attend, as it is open to all just pay the fee. 

Well today, I was asked to leave the VSOTA presentation given by Virginia State Police Master Trooper Angela Shaffier titled How to Conduct a Sexual Abuse and Sex Offender Investigation because and I quote “of my issues with the Virginia State Police”. 

When I entered the presentation room 20 minutes before the scheduled start time, Trooper Shaffier was sitting at a table with a Hanover Co. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney. Trooper Shaffier saw me, looked puzzled and then said what are you doing here? I replied Attending the conference, why wouldn’t I be here…..I hope that’s not a problem? She then stated she didn’t recognize me at first and I laughed saying that’s because you usually see me with no makeup or in my bathrobe.  

The Asst. C.A. and the VSOTA coordinator looked puzzled at our conversation. 

You see from July 2008 to November 2016 Trooper Shaffier was assigned to conduct my husband’s SO residency checks and she had visited my home 17 times in that period.  

I felt the need to include the two ladies who seemed puzzled so I explained my husband is wrongly listed on the VSP SO Registry and how it happened. Then Trooper Shaffier added that if we weren't home she’d wave at the security cameras and if she made the trip in late November she’d get to see my Christmas display which included antlers that inspired her to then bleach and sell antlers online. I finished up by explaining why we have the security cameras so another false allegation would never be successful. Also at some point Shaffier asked me if our 4th Trooper had yet come by and I filled her in on the stream we've had since she was promoted. 

Then we all did our own thing, checked our phones, etc. A gentleman sat down next to me asked me where I was from and what I do and so I went into my usual spiel on my advocacy and General Assembly work. 

Then as the presentation was ready to begin and the room was filling up the VSOTA Chair asked me to come out into the hall where a second coordinator was standing. 

Denise Hayes of VADOC (VSOTA Chair) said to me I understand you’ve had some issues with the State Police and because of that the presenter would prefer that you not attend the meeting. 
 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Last Action Item of 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session: HB638 and SB526 Uses VSP Sex Offender Registration to Limit and Punish RSO’s Drone Users Far More Harshly Than Other Virginians


03/26/18 Update:

At 12:41PM today LIS added an April 9th deadline for Governor Northam to sign, amend or veto SB526.

At that point there was no news/update on HB638.

If you have not yet contacted the Governor about HB638 and SB526 please read the below and take action.

Thank you.

Mary
 


03/20/18 Update:

At 11:43AM this morning LIS sent an update on HB638. A deadline of April 9th has been set for Governor Northam to amend, veto or sign it into law.

If you have not yet contacted the Governor about HB638 and SB526 please read the below and take action.

Thank you.

Mary


Original Post:

Final/Newest Text for HB638 (and SB526) heading to Governor Northam for his signature:

§ 15.2-926.3. (Expires July 1, 2019) Local regulation of certain aircraft.
No locality political subdivision may regulate the use of a privately owned, unmanned aircraft system as defined in § 19.2-60.1 within its boundaries. Nothing in this section shall permit a person to go or enter upon land owned by a political subdivision solely because he is in possession of an unmanned aircraft system if he would not otherwise be permitted entry upon such land.
§ 18.2-121.3. Trespass with an unmanned aircraft system; penalty.
A. Any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (i) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (ii) after having been given actual notice to desist, for any other reason, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
B. This section shall not apply to any person who causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property as set forth in subsection A if (i) consent is given to the entry by any person with legal authority to consent or by any person who is lawfully present on such property or (ii) such person is authorized by federal regulations to operate an unmanned aircraft system and is operating such system in an otherwise lawful manner.
§ 18.2-324.2. Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes; penalty.
A. It is unlawful for any person who is required to register pursuant to § 9.1-901 to use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (i) follow or contact another person without permission of such person or (ii) capture the images of another person without permission of such person when such images render the person recognizable by his face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic.
B. It is unlawful for a respondent of a protective order issued pursuant to § 16.1-279.1 or 19.2-152.10 to knowingly and intentionally use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to follow, contact, or capture images of the petitioner of the protective order or any other individual named in the protective order.
C. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor. 

As I stated in a post back on March 6th, this revised version is much better than the original text or even the House February 5th substitutes text both which would have made it 100%  illegal for anyone listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry from even using a drone.
BUT the new text still creates separate rules / guidelines and an immediate punishment for everyone listed on the VSP SO Registry and NOT for all other Virginians.
Here are the issues:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Status Update on All 2018 Virginia General Assembly Bills that Would Have Affected Registered Sex Offenders or Had to Do with Sex Crimes


The 2018 Virginia General Assembly session adjourned on Saturday March 10, 2018.

Where do the RSO and Sexual Bills stand?
1.     The 4 Emergency Shelter Bills HB187/HB757/SB24/SB49 are dead. YES!
2.    The School Property Bill HB622 is dead. YES!
3.    The Prostitution Bill was amendment with a start date of July 1, 2018. YES! Then it died.
4.    The 2 Teen Sexting Bills SB168/SB607 are dead. YES!
5.    The misdemeanor Statute of Limitations Bill HB1062 died-on-the-vine with no action. YES!
6.    The Sexual Battery Bill HB208 died-on-the-vine with no action. YES!
7.    The Sexual Display third offense Bill HB290 died-on-the-vine with no action. YES!
8.    The 2 Drone Bills HB638/SB526 were rewritten so it’s no longer a crime for an RSO to use a drone. Good,…..BUT the requirements and punishment for RSO’s are still much more strict and swift than for other Virginias, I’ll be posting an Action Item soon to contact the Governor.
9.    The Misdemeanor Crimes Earlier Petition for Removal Bill HB144 died in Sub-Committee. Bummer.
10. The Sex Offenders and Crimes Against Minors Registry; similar offenses; removal from Registry HB902 will most likely be signed into law. I was told by the Patrons office this was to help those from out-of-state and placed incorrectly into the 25-year bucket to petition at 5 years. Turns out that was false. It stops those who have been petitioning at the 15-year mark and places them into the 25-year bucket. Bummer, but I probably wouldn’t have opposed it even if I had been told the truth by Freitas’ office. But I have now learned not to trust him or his L.A.
11.  The Sexually violent predators; assessment protocol Bill SB267 will most likely be signed into law. I think this is a small positive change.
12. The Child abuse or neglect; sex offenders; investigations; reports to law enforcement Bill HB511 will most likely be signed into law. I don’t see this as a big deal, but others might disagree.

So, in summary:
7 categories of Bills that I opposed all died.

The one good Bill (#9) that I had nothing to do with sadly died.

3 Bills (#10-12) that I didn’t oppose or support will probably become law.

The 2 Drone Bills were amended/rewritten to be much better than the original text and they may become law as-is or maybe we can get the Governor to request an amendment, either way at least it’s no longer illegal for an RSO to use a drone.

All in all, 2018 is not a bad year for RSO’s. No new, harsher, retroactive laws were passed. That’s a successful General Assembly session in my book. Yes, I’d like some smart, data-driven Bills to pass but if holding back the tide of new, harsher Bills from passing into law is the outcome, I’ll take it.

Mary Devoy

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Great News! Virginia Bills HB757- Delegates Jay Leftwich and Cliff Hayes AND SB49- Senators John Cosgrove and Lionel Spruill are Dead.


Around 2:30PM LIS updated and it appears the Conference of 3 VA Delegates and 3 Senators failed to come to an agreement for final verbiage on HB757- Delegates Jay Leftwich and Cliff Hayes and SB49- Senators John Cosgrove and Lionel Spruill the Emergency Shelter Bills. These Bills, Failed they are Dead!

We’ll never know what was the sticking point(s) and which particular Legislators refused to budge because it was all behind closed doors. But I have my suspicions on who insisted on particular verbiage and who refused to budge.

I do believe all the email’s and phone calls you all made over the last few weeks helped stop the latest and most cruel version of this proposal.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief for 2018 that this will not be an issue but the same or similar proposal could be submitted for 2019 and if so I will oppose it and I will post action items about it.

Thank you all for taking action against the 4 original Emergency Shelter Bills at this year’s session.

Mary Devoy

How Much Did the Virginia State Police Spend on the Sex Offender Registry and SO Monitoring and Managing in 2017?


As most readers know I have been submitting FOIA’s for the last few years to obtain the annual cost of the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry (costs for managing and monitoring RSO’s, the re-registration letters and the actual database).

These costs are not part of the
annual VSP SO Monitoring Report.

These costs are also not posted anywhere online, so that is why I pay for the information each year.

Why does the cost of the VSP Registry matter? Because if we want
smart reform based on data and a comprehensive efficacy study on our current system we need to know how much has been spent for a group of citizens who have a less than 5% sexual recidivism rate.

Last year (2017) I paid the VSP $44.98 for the 2016 numbers. This week I’ve been charged $71.13 for the exact same data for 2017. I’m really not sure why there was a 58.1% jump in the cost for this information, but so be it.

Per this week’s VSP FOIA, the number of USPS certified letters that went out in 2017 dropped by 2,058 from 2016’s count. But yet they spent $7,849.00 more for the letters than in 2016.

I find this data peculiar as the total number of Registered Sex Offenders goes up every year (not down) so with 569 additional people on the VSP Registry in 2017 how did 2,000+ fewer letters go out?  It does NOT make sense.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Action Item for Virginia Bills HB757- Delegates Jay Leftwich/ Cliff Hayes and SB49- Senators John Cosgrove and Lionell Spruill, Three of the Six Conferees Have Been Selected for the Senate Version to be Debated Behind Closed Doors



Update March 10th 10:15AM:
Today is the last day of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session (at 12 noon I believe), but there is a planned Special Session because the Budget has not been finalized.

As of right now there is NO update in LIS on SB49 or HB757 on what the 6-member conference decided. I have no idea if anything will be posted today or not, it may be next week.



When there is an LIS update on these 2 Bills I will post about it.
Mary
 
Update March 7th  1:45PM:
The Virginia House has assigned their 3 Conferees and I was off by one (for who I guessed they’d assign), oh well I was close. 
They are:
·       Delegate Rob Bell- R                              DelRBell@house.virginia.gov              804-698-1058
·       Delegate Jay Leftwich- R                      DelJLeftwich@house.virginia.gov      804-698-1078
·       Delegate Charniele Herring-D             DelCHerring@house.virginia.gov       804-698-1046
Mary
 
Original Post:

Back on February 23rd I posted about HB757-Delegates Jay Leftwich/ Cliff Hayes and  SB49- Senators John Cosgrove and Lionell Spruill the “Emergency Shelter” Bills.
As of today, 3 of the 6 “conferees” have been selected to discuss the Senate version behind closed doors and determine if the 6 can agree on verbiage to then  have the chambers re-vote on the Bills before session ends OR to just let the Bills die because no agreement can be reached.

Virginia HB638 Delegates Chris Collins / Mike Mullin has Been Rewritten by the Conferees, It’s Better but NOT Equal or Right.

 
Back on February 27th I posted an Action Item about Hb638- Delegates Chris Collins / Mike Mullin and the 6-person Conference that was going to be held behind closed doors to decide what the outcome should be.
Late yesterday (March 5th) the results of that conference were posted online.
 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

One Week Until 2018 Virginia General Assembly Adjourns, (Sine Die). From the Worst-of-the-Worst List, Which Bills are Still Alive?


With one week to go in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly here is a status update on the Big 5 (in my opinion) for VA RSO’s. For the full list of 2018 VA GA Bills go to, goo.gl/muNFs3 (was last updated before HB622 had died).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Action Item for Virginia Bills HB638- Delegates Chris Collins / Mike Mullin and SB526- Mark Obenshain the Six Conferees Have Been Selected for the House Version


Back on February 14th I posted about HB638- Delegates Chris Collins / Mike Mullins and SB526- Senator Mark Obenshain which would ban ANYONE listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry from using a drone in pretty much every possible situation, without specifically using words like ‘ban’ or ‘prohibited’.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Take Action Against Virginia SB168- Bill Stanley / Scott Surovell that Makes Consensual Teen Sexting a New Crime, it’s on Monday February 26, 2018 Afternoon House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee #1 Agenda


Update 5:00PM 02/26/18:

At today’s Virginia House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee #1 meeting SB168 was “passed by indefinitely”, this means it’s dead for 2018. Yes!

SB168 was the last Bill heard at today’s meeting if you want to watch the discussion go to 36:00 of the video it runs until 1:10:09 -https://www.ustream.tv/recorded/113248454 
Mary

Original Post:

The agenda for next Monday February 26, 2018 Virginia House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee #1 meeting has posted online and SB168- Senators Bill Stanley / Scott Surovell.

The Virginia General Assembly does not video/stream Sub-Committee meetings but Virginia Progress does you can watch House Courts Sub-Comm #1 live here, https://eyesonrichmond.org/.