Twitter

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vigilante Harassment, Intimidation or Murder of Registered Sex Offenders or Their Family Members Should Be Included Under Hate Crimes, Especially if Carried Out By Members of Established Hate Groups

 
For a few days now I have lamented about the South Carolina couple who were murdered in their own home by a white-supremacist and his wife.  

The story has received some press (http://goo.gl/o28y7K , http://goo.gl/Io5GFB, http://goo.gl/8Z0rHm , http://goo.gl/vznIiJ ) that I have posted in the articles page of this blog but the story certainly has not been picked up by mainstream outlets. Why would it be? Most citizens would consider the murdered couple deserving of the hate driven attack by these supposed KKK followers/members. Oh, not because the murdered couple was a minority, they weren’t Jewish or even homosexual; if they had been then it would be more widely publicized. Citizens would be outraged if anyone from those three groups were the target of a vigilante attack.  

I didn’t know the murdered couple or the presumed perpetrators. 

It didn’t happen here in Virginia. 

So why can’t I get this story out of my mind? Why do I care?  

Instead of Charles Parker, 59, and his wife, Gretchen, 51 being savagely stabbed and shot to death in their home after offering to assist a supposedly stranded Jeremy Moody, 30, and his wife Christine, 36 ….it could have happened to my family or 20,000+ other Virginian families. 

So why were the Parker’s targeted? 

Charles Parker was a Registered Sex Offender. His photo, name, home address and a map of how to get to the front door of that address were all publicly listed on the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry. 

So when Charles and Gretchen Parker decided to take it upon themselves to murder some registered sex offenders because they assumed all RSO’s are “pedophiles” and “demons” all they had to do was print some pages from their states public registry (found inside their vehicle). The Moody’s were the Parker’s first stop and if there hadn’t been video recordings of the Parker’s on the property during the crime they had more names and addresses to move onto that week. 

The Moody’s like so many registered sex offenders installed not only a basic security system but cameras that dated, stamped and recorded all activity surrounding their home and property because they feared a vigilante attack of some sort.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Virginia Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board

 
Update:

I attended today's meeting at the Capitol, there might be one more meeting for 2013, in the autumn. But otherwise the Secretary of Public Safety will be working on the "recommendations" to the Governor for funding, programs, positions and proposed legislation.

It seemed that more Department of Criminal Justice Services employees are taking the lead on the issues that are being discussed by the Board. So I will begin keeping an eye on the DCJS’s website, summits, training and public meetings.

It seemed that more Department of Criminal Justice Services employees are taking the lead on the issues that are being discussed.

This Board was formed by an Executive Order (E.O), and it turns out Executive Orders can only be carried out 2 years in a row. So for the work of this group to carry on either a new E.O. will need to be made with a mission that is not identical to this one and a new or "tweaked" title or legislation would need to be submitted for a permanent board to be formed but funding would be required so that's not likely.

I expect a new E.O. with a new group name and a revised mission/goal will be the way the Administration goes before the November election and a then the new Governor and Secretary of Public Safety take office in January.


Original Post:

The Virginia Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board schedules First Meeting of 2013. They used to include the term “Sexual Assault” in its title and still covers sexual issues, usually meets during the summer and autumn. 

The Board was first formed by Governor McDonnell in October of 2010 and first met in the spring of 2011; it is managed by the Secretary of Public Safety. 

The Commonwealth Calendar (as opposed to the LIS calendar) tracks these meetings and lists the first meeting of the Advisory Board as Tuesday July 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM. Location: Senate Room 3, Virginia State Capitol. 

The draft agenda for the upcoming DVPRAB meeting can be found here, which includes Campus Safety and Human Trafficking. 

Even though the Commonwealth established a Governor’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety after the December 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut. This group/board is managed by the Governors Office meetings are scheduled for July 31st, August 13th, and September 25th 2013 at 1PM, no draft agendas are posted ahead of time for these meetings but afterwards an agenda can be found here. 

Not sure why there is an overlap of topics (Campus Safety) between the two groups.

Recommendations by either board/taskforce do not automatically become law in the Commonwealth. Any proposal approved by these groups must be submitted as a bill by a State Delegate and/or Senator during the yearly General Assembly session in Richmond which convenes on the second Wednesday in January. That bill must pass through both chambers (House and Senate) to then be sent to the Governor to be amended, vetoed or signed into law.
 
But recommendations by any State Board that are drafted into a bill are considered more valuable by the Legislature than a regular bill during session so it’s success rate is much higher. 

That is why anyone who is interested in legislation surrounding sexual, juvenile and school issues in Virginia should be knowledgeable about these two groups and what they are studying, discussing and recommending.

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

eAdvocate- S1243 Senator Vitter Requests that his amendment - attacking sex offenders NOT be read into the record


If you aren’t already following eAdvocate you should!

"E" follows National Legislation plus State issues and news too. 

Here is an Alert from eAdvocate on a Federal Bill. 

7-24-2013 Washington DC:

Yesterday we reported that Sen. Vitter presented an amendment affecting certain sex offenders in a new bill S-1243. At that time we did not have the details of the amendment, but in the Congressional record we found where he presented the amendment (see below).

Pay particular attention to the fact, that, he asks the clerk to "dispense with reading the amendment" i.e., to not read it into the record. He doesn't want the public to know what it says!

Thankfully the clerk reads some part of it to give us an idea of its intent, but we still do not have the exact wording to properly analyze it. In addition, the bill text on Thomas was not updated to reflect what it says either. So below is all we have to report.
 

Note: ONE Senator voted AGAINST this amendment, Senator Rockafeller of West Virginia. He should be commended for standing up against this harmful amendment. His contact information is at the link. 

To read more click here

Oklahoma Legislators Admit a Conviction-Based Classification System with No Risk Assessments Has Resulted in a Meaningless Registry

 
Per the below article, Oklahoma lawmakers admit their states Conviction-Based Classification System for Registrants is flawed and wasting valuable resources. 

I have personally asked Governor McDonnell’s staff (2 times-December 2009 and June 2010) The Virginia State Crime Commission (2 times-2009 and 2011) and numerous State lawmakers to eliminate our current 2 tiered (Non-Violent and Violent) Conviction- Based Classification System for Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia. 

Multiple crimes of varying degrees are “registerable” offenses, the plain and undeniable truth is there are even innocents listed on the Virginia Registry. The current laws that stigmatize someone as a “Sex Offender” in Virginia DO NOT distinguish between dangerous and stupid behavior. More than 94% of criminal charges in Virginia end with a plea deal mainly due to ignorance of the system, fear of prison time, lack of financial abilities to cover legal fees and the inevitable  fear of losing ones steady employment, housing and family. As opposed to actual guilt, believed by most citizens as the reason for any person would accept a plea. 

Once listed on the registry all are considered the same, all are assumed to be a “pervert”, a “pedophile” and a “predator”. 

When in reality only a fraction listed is a danger and should be monitored. 

Not to mention the “due-overs” the Virginia General Assembly has done without any due process. 

  • In 2006 and 2008 the Virginia General Assembly retroactively re-classified Virginians who were classified as Non-Violent to Violent. The offenders were notified via letter of the new mandate to register for another 5 years after the law went into effect that July. When this change occurred it meant the offender would not be able to petition to be removed from the registry.. …ever. They would be listed for life. It also meant instead of re-registering in-person with the VSP once per year they were mandated to do so every 90 days for life. A lifetime with no option to be removed, a lifetime of state resources and monitoring on people who were originally deemed Non-Violent by the courts.
 
  • In 2008 the Virginia General Assembly retroactively increased the mandatory time Non-Violent offenders were required to register from 10 years to 15 years before they would be allowed to petition the courts to be removed. A few Virginians that had successfully petitioned and were removed before 2008 were notified via letter of the new mandate to register for another 5 years after the law went into effect that July and were put back on the list. Everyone else had 5 years added onto their time-frame but weren’t even notified of this change by the state.
Today, approximately 83+%*** of the 20,000+* Virginian RSO’s are classified as Violent due to Virginia's inferior 2-Tier, Conviction Based Classification System. That's approximately 16,600 Virginians who are incorrectly classified as the “Worst-of-the-Worst” when in fact that category should be 12-22% of our total based on States that have a 3-Tiered, Risk-Based Classification System. That’s 12,200+ too many people in the lifetime monitoring category! 
 

Virginia State Crime Commission Child Sexual Abuse Work Group Holds Second Meeting at Richmond Capitol


 
I previously posted the 2013 VSCC meeting schedule and issues here. 

Yesterday the Work Group held their second meeting at the Capitol to finish discussing these issues. 

Originally HJ 595 directed the Virginia Crime Commission to study one issue but as with many bills and resolutions during the yearly General Assembly session it was merged with another study and has 2 different parts. 

Part 1 – to study the laws and policies governing the investigation of alleged child sexual abuse in the Commonwealth; this is the reason for the Work Group. 

Part 2 – to study feasibility of creating a criminal penalty for sexual conduct between secondary school teachers and adult (18 year old) students. 

WTVR covered yesterday’s meeting and incorrectly titled their coverage of the Work Group meeting (Part 1) Commission studies child sex laws following teacher’s arrest, http://wtvr.com/2013/07/23/state-crime-commission-child-abusesex/ which is Part 2 and not being discussed by the Work Group. 

A bit misleading for their viewers so I wanted to make the distinction here for anyone who is following the VSCC’s 2013 schedule and watches WTVR.

Be Sure to Check Out the Page Sections of This Blog Too!


Some days there are new posts and some days there aren’t.  

But some days I load new articles in the articles page and new books and studies in the books and studies page. Also every once in a while I make edits to the restrictions and regulations page to make it easier for everyone to stay compliant so keep an eye on that page too.

Do you know who your State Representatives are? How about your Federal Representatives? You can find out by clicking the links. 

When the 2014 General Assembly session begins in January I will add a G.A. page which could be updated daily and the VSP Monitoring Report page will also get updated with the new report that comes out the first week of January. 

I spend a lot of time making sure this site is user friendly, informative and current and I hope everyone who visits it finds something new each visit. 

Sincerely,

Mary D. Devoy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A.G. Cuccinelli is Using Fear and Hysteria to Justify Virginia’s 10 year Refusal to Amend Our Anti-Sodomy Law


 

UPDATES

#1-  Attorney General Cuccinelli's vindictive website is up, I refuse to link to it from this blog but anyone that is interested can find it from this article.

Mary

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli Launches Website in Support of Anti-Sodomy Law, July 16. 2013
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/virginia-gubernatorial-candidate-ken-cuccinelli-launches-website-support-anti-sodomy-law


#2- Watch MSNBC's Larry O'Donnell dissect the Virginia Sodomy/Crimes Against Nature Statute and Cuccinelli's misleading and false claims.

It's a shame Mr. O'Donnell did not go into how the 90 RSO's would not "just be removed from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry" as claimed on Cuccinelli's new website and to the media. It would take each and everyone of them filing a habeas corpus which would have to go through the courts and we've all seen the Norfolk 4's denial on that. Cuccinelli's claim that these 90 Virginians are just going to be released from the registry is completely false and he knows it. But hype and fear is what incenses the public and wins elections!

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Original Post

Ever since Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli began his Federal challenge (see article below) to keep Virginia’s anti-sodomy statute I’ve been saying the Virginia General Assembly could have fixed the issue of adults and minors engaging in oral or anal sex by changing the verbiage in the statute years ago. But NO the Commonwealth must be perceived as conservative, as anti ANY sex that isn’t “regular” and if it looks like the state is anti-homosexual, well that’s a bonus! 

Well the refusal over the last 10 years to edit/amend Virginia’s unconstitutional statute could now backfire against the entire Commonwealth who’s Prosecutors (Commonwealth Attorney’s) kept using it as the main charge with adults who had contact with minors in such a manner.  

So what does Cuccinelli do? His Campaign-for-Governor announces they are creating a website or a link (I haven’t been able to find it yet) that lists the 90 Registered Sex Offenders who were convicted under the unconstitutional statute because they might have a case against the state to have their convictions overturned. Many of these 90 RSO’s are living their lives in our communities; they are compliant and there are attempting to provide housing and food for their families. All their information can be found on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry, but our “Governor-Wanna-Be” is now using these 90 citizens’ photos, names, residential addresses and employment information as fuel to the fire he wants to keep burning under the guise of public safety.

These 90 RSO’s are just a “stepping stone” for Mr. Cuccinelli, he doesn’t care that by holding them up as examples of Virginia’s unconstitutional convictions could very well result in them losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their families who are now put under even a brighter spotlight than the registry already creates or that their property might be damaged, they could be verbally harassed or worse. All because some vigilante believes this political hype and decides to take matters into their own hands. An RSO who has a job, has a home and can provide for their family who gives that offender support and love is an offender who registers and so the public know who they are and where they are. But an offender with no job, no home and no support is an offender that the public does not of their whereabouts and is an offender that has nothing to lose meaning they are much more likely to commit a new crime, creating a new victim. 

By holding these 90 Virginians up as an example Mr. Cuccinelli has actually put a target on their backs. Either as a failed re-entry back into society or as a public punching bag by anyone who believes they might get removed from our registry. 

I personally feel that this shameless action by Mr. Cuccinelli is harassment and intimidation against the 90 Virginians, but I’m not an attorney so I can’t be sure. 

I just hope and pray that none of these 90 Virginians or their family members suffers a backlash based on Mr. Cuccinelli’s reckless political maneuver to appear tough-on-predators. If any of the RSO’s do lose employment, a rental property or worse we will all know it’s not because they’ve been an RSO for years but because Mr. Cuccinelli used them as a sacrifice to justify 10 years of refusing to fix our sodomy statute.  

After all..... their just Registered Sex Offenders, who cares anything about them or their families, certainly not the Virginia Administration? 

Mary  


Cuccinelli looks to go on offense against McAuliffe over Virginia anti-sodomy law
By Ben Pershing, July 16. 2013

When Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II challenged a federal appeals court ruling that deemed the state’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional, Democrats pounced, accusing the Republican of pursuing an anti-gay agenda. 

Now Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor is looking to turn the tables on opponent Terry McAuliffe, casting it as an issue of protecting children from predators and pushing the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to take a side. 

Cuccinelli’s campaign is launching a Web site Wednesday that shows 90 Virginia sex offenders who have been prosecuted under the state’s anti-sodomy law since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sodomy statutes criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults were unconstitutional. Visitors can enter their Zip code and see “offenders who live or work near you, who may be removed from the Sex Offender Registry if Ken doesn’t win this appeal.” 

McAuliffe, the site says, is “playing politics instead of protecting our children.” 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) 32nd Annual Research and Treatment Conference- Shouldering Responsibility: Making Society Safer - October 30th to November 2nd 2013 in Chicago, Illinois



The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) is an international, multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to preventing sexual abuse. Through research, education, and shared learning ATSA promotes evidence based practice, public policy and community strategies that lead to the effective assessment, treatment and management of individuals who have sexually abused or are at risk to abuse. 

ATSA is an association of individuals from around the world committed to achieving a high level of professional excellence. ATSA promotes the philosophy that empirically based assessment, practice, management, and policy strategies will: enhance community safety, reduce sexual recidivism, protect victims and vulnerable populations, transform the lives of those caught in the web of sexual violence, and illuminate paths to prevent sexual abuse. 

ATSA’s 32nd Annual Research and Treatment Conference is scheduled for October 30 - November 2, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois, Shouldering Responsibility: Making Society Safer 

Conference Registration Information can be found here. 

The 2013 Brochure includes Schedule, Events, Sessions, Speakers/Presenters and registration form. 

There are ATSA State Chapters; the Virginia Chapter does have a website. 

A small, select number of past ATSA Conference Presentations are available on-line.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

U.S. House Judiciary Committee/Task Force on the Over-Criminalization of America Schedules Hearing #2

 
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee (Federal laws) has scheduled a second public meeting/hearing on the issue of the Over-Criminalization of America for July 19th at 9AM (EST) and the topic/subject is Mens Rea: The Need for a Meaningful Intent Requirement in Federal Criminal Law. You should be able to watch the hearing live or later in the day and the testimony of the invited speakers will be posted afterwards. 

The first House Judiciary meeting was held back on June 14, 2013; you can watch the video of the hearing and read the written testimony from the Chairman and all the invited speakers. 

Mens Rea is a point that I bring up regularly during the yearly Virginia General Assembly (State laws) sessions when new laws are being proposed and debated. In the last 4 years pointing out that the simple existence of a Registered Offender on their way “to” or “from” a reasonable location like their home, place of employment, public grocery store or corner gas station has stopped quite a few outlandish bills in their tracks which would have created new felonies in our state. The Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee seems to get this point more than the Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee, sadly. The benign acts of daily life, running errands and completing tasks should never result in a criminal charge in America. 

I don’t expect any changes to be made in the Federal criminal codes from this initiative in the viewing or sharing of child pornography images on-line or the extreme sentences with these two convictions, but there should be. 

Viewing and downloading free on-line images have resulted in prison sentences of a 100+ years whereas being the person who commits the abuse and produces the image can be a sentence of 5-15 years. In 2009 there was a case here in Virginia where a college professor spent 45 minutes on one website with child pornography and he was facing 140 years in prison.  

Murder and DUI that kills someone won't result in a 50 year sentence let alone 140 years, so why does viewing an image? 

The Federal code needs to be flipped when it comes to these specific child pornography viewing/possessing and downloading/sharing issues. 

If the U.S. Government isn’t going to shut down, crash or block these free websites (that anyone can accidently stumble into) from being on the world-wide-web but in some cases actually use them as bait for more convictions and more funding against citizens who had no physical contact with the victim in the image then the cycle of Over-Criminalization will just continue……..and the prisons and public registries will just keep expanding. 

Mary

Articles on the Formation of the U.S. House Over-Criminalization Taskforce:
 
Task Force Aims to Lighten Criminal Code: Bipartisan Congressional Initiative Targets Bloated Federal Provisions Cited by Critics for Driving Up Incarceration Rates, May 5, 2013

Congressional Task Force Tackles Bloated Criminal Code, May 19, 2013

Bipartisan task force seeks to tackle criminal code, May 28, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

U.S. House Passes Federal Farm Bill; Strips Out Food-Stamp Program


 
This is NOT the U.S. Senate Bill that I posted about last week, but we still need to watch all the Federal Food Stamp bills for “sex offender” amendments since Senator Vitter set the bad example and if any such prohibition is added I will post about it so you can contact your Federal representatives.

Mary 

I-
By Jonathan Weisman and Ron Nixon July 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — Republicans muscled a pared-back agriculture bill through the House on Thursday, stripping out the food stamp program to satisfy recalcitrant conservatives but losing what little Democratic support the bill had when it failed last month. It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973. 

The 216-to-208 vote saved House Republican leaders from an embarrassing reprisal of the unexpected defeat of a broader version of the bill in June, but the future of agriculture policy remains uncertain. The food stamp program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was 80 percent of the original bill’s cost, and it remains the centerpiece of the Senate’s bipartisan farm bill.  

Even in a chamber used to acrimony, Thursday’s debate in the House was particularly brutal. Democrats repeatedly called for roll-call votes on parliamentary procedures and motions to adjourn, delaying the final vote by hours and charging Republicans over and over again with callousness and cruelty.  

Republicans shouted protests, trying to silence the most strident Democrats, and were repeatedly forced to vote to uphold their own parliamentary rulings.  

Representative Frank D. Lucas, Republican of Oklahoma, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he would try to draft a separate food stamp bill “as soon as I can achieve a consensus.” But conservatives remain determined to extract deep cuts to the program — cuts that members of both parties in the House and Senate have said they cannot support.  

House and Senate negotiators could produce a compromise measure with the robust food stamp program the Senate wants, but such a bill would almost certainly have to pass the House with significant Republican defections.  

Asked before the vote Thursday if he would allow a compromise bill to come to a final vote in the House, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio shrugged and said: “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. You’ve heard that before. My goal right now is to get the farm bill passed. We’ll get to those other issues later.”  

By splitting farm policy from food stamps, the House effectively ended the decades-old political marriage between urban interests concerned about nutrition and rural areas who depend on farm subsidies.  

“We wanted separation, and we got it,” said Representative Marlin Stutzman, Republican of Indiana, one of the bill’s chief authors. “You’ve got to take these wins when you can get them.”  

Democrats denounced the bill as a naked attempt to make draconian cuts in the food stamp program.  

“A vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.  

When Did Modern Society Begin Assuming that All Adult Men Who Enter a Park, a Museum, a Fair or any Public “Fun Event” Without a Child Must be There to Abduct or Molest One? Today’s Example: John St-Onge Barred From Legoland Discovery Center.

 
While driving yesterday I was listening to the radio and caught a morning show talking about John St-Onge being denied admission to Legoland (see article below). 

It’s despicable that modern society has become so paranoid of all men that public areas are now off-limits to them because “we” believe they pose a risk even though they’ve done nothing wrong. 

Those who have been mandated to bear the public label “sex offender” face discrimination and banishment daily by state laws banning them from museums, parks, campgrounds,  lakes, beaches, golf courses, ski resorts, state and county fairs, fast-food establishments with playgrounds and this list goes on. Plus private establishments with policies like Six Flags and Disneyworld denying admission to all registered sex offenders, no exceptions. Then there have been airlines forcing men to move seats away from minors and water parks calling the police on grandfathers. These fear mongering, knee-jerk over-reactions or policies being projected onto every adult man are truly heartbreaking. What has happened to our society? 

Lenore Skenazy has written about this before “when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep." She dubs it "worst-first" thinking: Immediately assuming the worst, even if it's highly unlikely. "Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant."   

Policies like these are based on assumptions and you know what your mother told you about assuming something. You make an ass-out-of-you-and-me. 

To assume that a 63 year old man and his adult daughter are at Legoland Discovery Center not to admire the Lego’s but to create an unsafe environment for children might be one of the most pathetic policies I’ve come across in the last 5 years of being an advocate for reforming our sexual laws, registries and legal restrictions and I’ve shaken my head in dismay too many times to even count. 

This is what a zero-tolerance mentality does to society, destroys it. 

Mary 
 

John St-Onge Barred From Legoland Discovery Center Because He Was Unaccompanied By A Child  By Ryan Grenoble, July 10, 2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/john-st-onge-legoland-senior-age-limit_n_3573608.html
 
 
A self-described "Lego fanatic" isn't feeling the love after a trip to the Legoland Discovery Center in Vaughan, Canada, ended before he was even allowed inside.

John St-Onge, was barred from entering a Legoland Discovery Center because he was not accompanied by a child. His adult daughter, Nicole, had traveled with St-Onge on the three-hour drive from their hometown of Windsor, Ontario, to realize her father's long-time dream, but that was not enough to get them through the door, CTV News reports.

“I felt discriminated against,” St-Onge recalled to the National Post. “[I was thinking] ‘What, are you painting a label on my back, that I'm a pedophile?’ That's what really, really, really bothered me. What do you think I'm going to do in there?”

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry Agree to Remove the Employer Name and Address of Registered Sex Offenders from their Public Registry. Why Has Virginia Rejected the Same Proposal Twice (2010 & 2012)?


 
Back in March 2013 I emailed the Virginia Legislators with a link to an article advising them of pending legislation in Texas that was inspired from two past bills that I lobbied for here in Virginia. Mary Sue of Texas Voices contacted me a few years back for the verbiage used in our Virginia bill. 

I am so very pleased to announce that the Texas Legislature did the right thing not just for the successful re-entry of their registered sex offenders and families but for employers across their state. Governor Perry has signed SB369-Removing the Employer Name and Address of Registered Sex Offenders from the public registry.  The employment information is expected to be removed from the registry after the law takes effect September 1st. Representative Burnam and Senator Whitmire were the sponsors. 

I have attempted twice to get just the employer/company name removed from the public Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry. The address would have still been listed and the map would still have been available but by removing the name of the employer the business would have no longer been publicly punished for giving an ex-offender a job. The practice of publicly shaming employers for hiring the best candidate is counterproductive and allows for customers, clients, contractors and anonymous callers to harass and condemn an employer for hiring a registered Virginian. Most employers don’t want to be bothered with the constant headache and pressure from those who choose to hate a person based on this label. 

Here in Virginia the 2012 HB413 was quickly stopped in its tracks but the 2010 version SB635  passed the Senate 40-0 only to be “killed” in the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee.

The Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA guidelines mandate the address to be listed but not the company name. Yet the SMART Office has claimed AWA/SORNA compliance for 16 states and of those 7 do not publicly list the employer address. Certification is possible without meeting the address requirement.

As of September 2013 Virginia will be one of only 6 states who publicly list both the employer name and address.

As of September 2013 29 states will not list any employer information publicly.

Back on July 1, 2012 Kansas took similar steps and removed the employment information from their public registry and they are Certified AWA/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office.

Shaming businesses within our state, plus ensuring 20,000+ Virginians will never find more than a temporary job benefits no one but ensures a failed re-entry back into society.

It seems based on the 2010 vote such a bill has the approval of most of the Virginia Senate; the issue at hand is the House.

I just have asked all 140 Virginia Legislators (11 who are not running for re-election this November and 89 who are) if anyone is willing to sponsor such a bill at the upcoming 2014 Virginia session. Perhaps even companion bills, a House and a Senate version.

Article by Errin Whack: Advocates Worry About Details of Virginia’s New Program to Restore Voting Rights to Felons

 

RICHMOND — With a week left until Virginia has to determine how it will restore the voting rights of certain nonviolent felons, some advocates helping to shape the program are concerned about how the new policy will work.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced in late May that he would waive the waiting period and automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences and satisfied certain conditions.

Grass-roots groups working with the McDonnell administration to streamline the process have spent weeks wrestling with details such as how to determine who will qualify, how to find the thousands who could be eligible, and whether felons should be required to pay outstanding fines before they can regain voting rights.

Restoring the rights of nonviolent felons has been a priority for McDonnell, who is in the final year of his term and cannot run for reelection. About 100,000 of Virginia’s estimated 350,000 felons are nonviolent, supporters of the governor’s program said.

McDonnell’s administration has restored the voting rights of more felons than any previous governor’s administration — more than 5,000 since 2010 — and the governor’s announcement in May was greeted by advocates as a departure from the Republican Party’s efforts to toughen voting laws.

Despite their concerns about the details of the program, advocates working with the administration praised McDonnell’s efforts and said they are hopeful that the new guidelines will help more felons regain their voting rights.

Opinion by Jill Levenson: Knowing the Numbers: How Bad Sex-Offender Data Could Cause More Harm

In the US Supreme Court's recent decision upholding sex offender registration requirements (SORNA) under the Adam Walsh Act [PDF], the Court's opinion [PDF] included the following statement: "SORNA's general changes were designed to make more uniform what had remained "a patchwork of federal and 50 individual state registration systems ... with loopholes and deficiencies" that had resulted in an estimated 100,000 sex offenders essentially disappearing off law enforcement's radar. 
 
It is astounding that in this age of widespread information and access to research, the Court is relying on inaccurate statistics. The commonly repeated statistic of 100,000 missing sex offenders is often erroneously attributed to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or the US Marshals Service, both of which continue to proclaim on their websites that 100,000 sex offenders are missing — despite published evidence to the contrary. This misinformation is frequently included in congressional testimony and in media reports, influencing social policy, public opinion and funding allocations. 
 
A study published in 2012 disputed the claims that 100,000 registered sex offenders in the US are "missing." The study, conducted by University of Massachusetts Lowell criminologist Andrew Harris and myself, was published in the scientific journal Criminal Justice Policy Review. It analyzed data downloaded directly from online sex offender registries in 2010 and also surveyed states' registry managers. 
 
The study utilized a sample of more than 445,000 registered sex offenders listed on public registries. Harris and I were able to identify sex offenders designated by states to be transient, homeless, absconded, non-compliant or whose address or whereabouts were otherwise unknown. Nationwide, about 2.4 percent were officially listed as absconded, unable to be located or non-compliant with registration mandates. When including those designated as homeless or transient, the rate grew to slightly over four percent. 
 
Using the more liberal four percent figure to estimate the number of sex offenders living in the community whose whereabouts could not be verified, the count was calculated to be somewhere between 23,000 and 30,000. The study emphasized that these numbers included technical non-compliance as well as true absconding. Ultimately, no evidence was found to support the frequently repeated statistic that 100,000 (or about fourteen percent) of the nation's sex offenders are missing or unaccounted for. 
 
Harris and I also reported on data obtained in 2010 via e-mail and telephone surveys of state registry managers. Rates of registration non-compliance among registrants living in the community varied greatly, ranging from about one percent in some states (e.g., Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) to approximately thirteen percent in others (California, Hawaii and Oklahoma). Nationally, the median rate of non-compliance is about 2.7 percent. The variation in how state systems defined and categorized offenders made it difficult to estimate exactly how many sex offenders have truly gone missing. 
 
Policymakers and courts should make decisions armed with current, published, peer-reviewed research utilizing appropriate methodologies. Those providing testimony (especially federally funded agencies) should be expected to inform legislative bodies, courts and media with current and credible data. To do otherwise breaches the public trust.
 
Dr. Jill Levenson is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. Recognized internationally as an expert on sexual aggression and sex crime policy, she has published over eighty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has co-authored three books on the treatment of sex offenders and their families.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oklahoma and Ohio have Ruled Restrictions for RSO’s as Punitive and Retroactive Application of them as Unconstitutional, it Could Happen in Virginia if Someone Takes Up a Challenge

 
 
On June 25, 2013 the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that restrictions imposed upon registered sex offenders in their state are in fact punitive and not administrative. Also in the ruling the court stated that any retroactive application of laws upon registered offenders including re-classifications and prolonging their required time to remain a registered offender are both unconstitutional.

Oklahoma must now take steps to return the original classification and to remove anyone who had already met their original requirement of registration this in the end will cost the state tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. The real ramifications of this ruling will be unfurling for months because numerous inmates currently serving time for violating state sex offender registry laws should have their convictions overturned and be entitled to release. 

Ohio previously had to adhere to similar rulings from their state Supreme Court and their costs did reach into the hundreds of thousands. 

       In Ohio       
  1. June 2010- Retroactive/mass re-classifications
  2. April 2011- Retroactive mandate to registration for convictions before Adam Walsh Act/ AWA existed
  3. July 2011- Adam Walsh Act/AWA mandated registration declared punitive not administrative
  4. April 2012- Retroactive mandate of lifetime registration for juveniles
                                                                                                                                                                 
All determined to be unconstitutional. 

So why does any of this matter here in Virginia?  

Well, for the last 5 General Assembly sessions I have been the one voice of reason pointing out that the majority of proposed bills here in Virginia against registered sex offenders has nothing to do with public safety, they aren't simply administrative but are actually punitive and they are all based on myth and fear instead of on any facts or empirical evidence.  

Also, most bills proposed here in Virginia are still being written as retroactive and are only amended if I point out the issues with ex post facto. Some of the more senior and knowledgeable Senators and Delegates have also recognized this and agree that the bill can not move forward as retroactive. 

But the main reason is because