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.

I've even promised them all that I will not stand in support of such a bill as I know a handful of Delegates will kill a bill just to spite me. I’m not too proud to let a good bill pass through the process without making a public statement, such a bill is far too important to allow my person feelings to hinder its success. 

If you support such legislation here in Virginia, please email or call your one State Delegate and your one State Senator this month. If you live in one of the 11 districts without an incumbent running for re-election on November 5th  please contact the candidates in your district today so they are aware of this need in case they are elected and take office in time for the January 2014 Virginia General Assembly session. If they don’t know their constituents support such a request they might shy away from it if it comes before them. 

Thank you!

Mary D. Devoy

50 State Break-down for RSO Employer Information as of September 2013:

No Employment Information Listed

  Kansas*   **** 
  Rhode Island 
  South Dakota**** 
  New Hampshire 
  New Jersey 
  North Carolina 
  North Dakota 

Employer Name and Address Listed

  New Mexico***

Employer Address Only Listed

  South Carolina****
  New York

Employer City, County and Zip Code Listed

        West Virginia

Employer City and Occupation Listed


Employer Street Name and Zip Code Listed


*               -In July 2012 Kansas removed employment information from their public registry

**             -In September 2013 Texas removed employment information from their public registry

***           -New Mexico only releases information for registrants who will come into direct contact with children

****         -Certified AWA/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office