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Monday, September 30, 2013

Television Show: The Doctors Gave 4 Whole Minutes to the Issue of State or City/County Halloween Bans and Signs for Registered Sex Offenders. Why Did They Even Bother?


 
 
There are 4 Doctors on the Panel, 2 guests (one pro signs/bans , one against signs/bans) and 4 minutes to discuss. GO! 
 
No meaningful discussion or debate can occur with 6 people in 4 minutes, good grief!
 
Poor Janice Bellucci didn't have a fighting chance to dispel the already imbedded assumptions, myths and fear those 5 people came to the show with.
 
Why did the show even bother having this pathetic segment?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate: Not Just Denying Food Stamps /SNAP to Anyone Convicted of a Sexual Offense But to Their Spouse and Their Children Too


I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. If the information is already out there then use it and direct other folks to it.

eAdvocate has a new post about the Food Stamp Bills that we’ve both been following.

 Past Postings on the issue:

·         September 20, 2013: Food Stamp http://goo.gl/ZPXS9a

·         July 3, 2013: Food Stamp http://goo.gl/vqqDrg 


Below is eAdvocate’s newest post on the Food Stamp Bills you can click on the title to read it from his site if you prefer. I just want you to know what’s going on in D.C. and to take action. 

Thank you!

Mary
 

9-29-2013 Washington DC:
 
Whats going on in Congress with the Farm Bills (Plural) and sex offenders. Folks need to know that Congress has not passed any Farm Bill since 2008, so some updating is needed, for reasons to numerous to mention here. Last year Congress was at a stalemate w/two versions of a Farm Bill, and neither passed, instead they extended the 2008 Farm Bill (a possibility this year if another stalemate occurs). OK, lets review things today:

1) Senate, most folks know that Sen. Vitter wiggled a bad amendment into
S-954 and the Senate passed it. Heck we all know a Farm Bill update needs to happen, but not with Vitter trickery affecting certain sex offenders.

Unfortunately, at this point we cannot do anything about what Vitter did because S-954 passed and was sent to the House for their approval. It sits there with no House action, but worse yet, the bad Vitter amendment is available to all House members to read.

2) House, well they have their own version of a Farm Bill
HR-3102
(introduced 9-16 by Rep Lucas) and tucked into that bill is a House version of the Vitter amendment. Obviously Rep. Lucas read what was in S-954 and modified it, then tucked that into his bill HR-3102.

OK, now other House Reps, not to be outdone, have since introduced Farm Bills (HR-2498 and HR-2642) and guess what is tucked into those bills. Right, some version of the bad Vitter amendment.
 

Assumptions, Myths and Fear: Halloween in Virginia as the Parent, the Spouse, the Roommate or the Child of a Registered Sex Offender Can Be Extremely Frustrating, Difficult and Dangerous

 
This weekend neighbors on every street were decorating for Halloween and it’s not even October 1st! 

Well, they aren’t the only ones to get an early start: 4 days ago I composed and sent a preemptive email notice to numerous Virginia Media Outlets.

It was about Halloween, Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia and myth versus fact about the holiday. I sent a similar email back in 2009, 2010 and 2011 but took a break in 2012 to see what type of coverage would occur without a notice going out. 

It was an effort to quash incorrect information and/or false assumptions being broadcast this year under the guise of “Halloween Safety”.  

Here it is: 

Myth #1: 

All Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia are prohibited from participating in Halloween activities.
-          Decorating their home
-          Porch Lights on
-          Handing out candy
-          Wearing a costume 

Fact:
Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT under VA-DOC supervised Probation (the majority of them) can decorate their home, have their front light on and give out candy to trick-or-treaters. So can their spouse, parents, room-mates or children at that same address. 
 
Myth #2: 

Virginia offenders who are under VA-DOC supervised Probation must report to their Districts Probation Office on Halloween. 

Note:
As of December 1, 2012, there were 19,530 sex offenders listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry.
-          3,536 registrants under the purview of the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Services
-          7,699 sex offenders whose registration and verifications are the responsibility of the Department of State Police
-          8,295 registrants who are incarcerated in jails or prisons across the state
 
Fact:
Every VA- DOC Probation District handles Halloween differently.  

1.       Some districts run Operation Trick Not Treat (TNT) where they require registered offenders to come to their offices during the hours of 4:30pm to 9:00pm on October 31 to conduct educational sessions, drug and alcohol screenings, address supervision issues and provide custodial searches of offenders and oversight of any existing warrants. 

Family members and room-mates of Operation TNT participants can decorate their home, have their front light on and give out candy to trick-or-treaters while the RSO is away from the property. 

2.      Some districts require registered offenders to participate in Operation Porch Light Out. Those offenders are required not to participate in any Halloween activities, to remain in their homes with their porch lights out and they may not answer the door for trick-or-treaters on October 31. To ensure offender compliance, the DOC Probation and Parole Officers along with law enforcement officers make home spot checks. 
Myth #3: 

The Registered Sex Offenders who are under VA-DOC supervised Probation know that their district’s probation office is participating in Operation Trick or Treat or Operation Porch Lights Out so if they are in violation on October 31st it is their fault. 

Fact:
In past years by October 1st the VA-DOC does not have a list of which districts will be observing which program. Which means the Registered Offenders do not know what they are required to do or where they are required to be. 

Some district’s call the offenders home and leave a message and some districts send a letter via regular U.S. mail. Many of these phone calls and letters in past years have arrived on October 31 when the RSO is at work. 

It is not a black and white / right or wrong situation.
 
Myth #4: 

Registered offenders are looking for new victims on Halloween. 

Fact:
As of last year there has not been one case of a Registered Sex Offender re-offending in Virginia or in any of the 49 other states on Halloween. 

Missing Text From Federal Bill HR2848 Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014 is Posted 7 Weeks After the Fact and As Suspected it Will Affect Every RSO with a Passport

 
Back on August 3rd (per an article I happened to find on the 2nd) I alerted everyone of New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith’s International Megan’s Law amendment that he quickly slipped into HR2848 Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014.

Past Postings on the issue:

-          August 23 Reminder Chris Smith Amendment: http://goo.gl/4CHIhP
-          August 8 Passport, What to Say: http://goo.gl/Wk8UW6
-          August 8 Passport, Who to Contact: http://goo.gl/X6q9Pm
-          August 3 Passport Alert: http://goo.gl/2HYT2n 

But the text of the amendment into the bill was never added to reflect what I found in the news article. 

I even signed up a few weeks ago for email alerts to specific bills in Congress so not to miss the text when it was loaded.

Obviously the email sign up is flawed as I have not received one email alert but on September 26th  eAdvocate sent me a message that the text was finally added on September 25th. 

SEC. 213. AUTHORITY TO RESTRICT PASSPORTS. 

(a) In General- The Secretary of State is authorized to— 

(1) limit to one year or such period of time as the Secretary of State shall determine appropriate the period of validity of a passport issued to a sex offender; and

(2) revoke the passport or passport card of an individual who has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in a foreign country of a sex offense. 

(b) Limitation for Return to United States- Notwithstanding subsection (a), in no case shall a United States citizen convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in a foreign country of a sex offense be precluded from entering the United States due to a passport revocation under such subsection. 

(c) Reapplication- An individual whose passport or passport card was revoked pursuant to subsection (a)(2) may reapply for a passport or passport card at any time after such individual has returned to the United States. 

(d) Definitions- For purposes of this section: 

(1) SEX OFFENDER- The term ‘sex offender’ means an individual who is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry established pursuant to section 119 of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (42 U.S.C. 16915).

(2) SEX OFFENSE- The term ‘sex offense’ means a sex offense as defined in section 111(5) of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (42 U.S.C. 16915). 

Yes, Congress members were on a 5 week break in August to early September but their staffers and the committee employees were still working during that time.

Why did it take 7.5 weeks to post the Smith amendment into the text of HR2848 ? Seems very cloak and dagger to me.

If you have not yet emailed, called or faxed your Federal Representatives asking them to immediately remove the Smith amendment from HR2848, please take 10 minutes and do so this week. My earlier posts (links above) outline what to say if you need some direction and who to contact if you aren’t sure.  

Thank you for taking the time to stop this hateful and misplaced amendment. 

Mary Devoy

Virginia Has Surpassed 20,000 Registered Sex Offenders By Adding 92 New People Each Month in 2013

Per the yearly December 1st VSP Monitoring Report on December 1, 2012, there were 19,530 sex offenders listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry.
Of those:
  • 3,536 registrants under the purview of the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Services
  • 7,699 sex offenders whose registration and verifications are the responsibility of the Department of State Police
  • 8,295 registrants who are incarcerated in jails or prisons across the state
Way back on December 1st 2008 the VSP Monitoring Report had 15,297 sex offenders listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry.
Of those:
  • 2,941 registrants under the purview of the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Services
  • 5,606 sex offenders whose registration and verifications are the responsibility of the Department of State Police
  • 6,750 registrants who are incarcerated in jails or prisons across the state
 
That was a jump from 1 out of every 202 Adult Males in Virginia being a Registered Sex Offender (2008) to 1 out of every 159 Adult Males in Virginia being a Registered Sex Offender (2012).

An average of 1,058 new Virginians are added to our Registry every year I did the math from the last 4 years
  • From 12/2008 to 12/2009-            941 additional people added to the Virginia Registry
  • From 12/2009 to 12/2010-         1,385 additional people added to the Virginia Registry
  • From 12/2010 to 12/2011-          1,040 additional people added to the Virginia Registry
  • From 12/2011 to 12/2012-              867 additional people added to the Virginia Registry
That worked out to be an average of 88 people per month, until 2013! 

Now, per the above image from National Center Missing and Exploited Children as of May 29, 2013 there were 19,901 Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia. 

But according to Klass Kids Foundation as of July 30, 2013 Virginia has 20,174 Registered Sex Offenders. 

Note: Both organizations submitted a request for those numbers and they were given the information whereas I submitted the same type of request in both February 2011 and May 2012 and I was advised by the Virginia State Police that they don’t have to abide by Freedom of Information Act requests when it comes to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry (it does state that in the statute). It’s nice to know the VSP will assist these National Victims’ Organizations when they request data but the VSP will refuse to assist when a citizen, a taxpayer and a public advocate of the Commonwealth asks for it. 

As of the end of July 2013 per the Klass Kids data there are 644 new Virginians on our registry. That’s 92 new people being added each month since last December 1st.

Looks like 2013 is keeping the same pace and if it doesn’t slow down may come in second for the most people added. 

Not a record that I want to see maintained or broken.

Mary
 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

James Ridgeway: How 'civil commitment' enables indefinite detention of sex offenders. One Viriginian Challenged the System and Won


 
I decided to post this article about the process to civilly commitment those deemed by the state of Virginia as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP’). If the state is successful then the inmate is transferred from the prison to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville, VA for indefinite "treatment".
 
Today Galen volunteers with National C.U.R.E. and is a member of the Virginia State Chapter in Northern VA. 

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

Most people would think that once you have served a jail sentence, you are free to go. But that's not always the case.

When it comes to sex offenders, a number of states and the federal government have laws that allow them to keep you in jail, simply because they consider you a potential recidivist. Through a legal procedure called "civil commitment", you can be classed as a sexually violent predator based solely on the subjective opinion of a state-employed psychologist or sex expert.

Once placed under a civil commitment, you are essentially in prison indefinitely. This can quickly become a nightmare, particularly in instances such as an "agreed disposition'' – similar to a plea bargain in a criminal trial – where a person may have been pushed to waive his right to appeal (pdf) during negotiations.

No one knows for sure how many sex offenders there are in the US, but well over 747,000 people are listed on registries. Some are, indeed, pedophiles, but one third of offenders have committed their crime as children. The recidivism rate for sex offenders in general is low, with government statistics showing the rate at around 5%, versus 60% for all criminal activity.

The topic, especially with the Ariel Castro horror in Cleveland fresh in everybody's minds, is charged with emotion. There is little regard for sex offenders in the justice system: defense lawyers are loath to take a case before a jury, fearing instant conviction, and judges often can barely hide their disgust should they render a decision at a bench trial.

So, the Virginia case of a young gay college student named Galen Baughman is all the more remarkable. Baughman gambled with his future when he decided to take his case before a Virginia jury. Yet, amazingly, he won.

Baughman had been a college student in the early 2000s at the University of Indiana, studying to become an opera singer. He was sentenced in a Virginia court in 2004 to 30 years in prison for "aggravated sexual battery" and sex with a minor (aged 13-15), after having been charged initially with soliciting sex over the internet and disseminating indecent materials to minors. Baughman claimed the sexual encounters were not forced.

The judge suspended part of the sentence; even so, Baughman spent nine years in prison – half of that time in one sort of segregation or another, despite serving his sentence without any infraction.

In 2007, just as he was looking forward to release, Virginia officials unexpectedly informed Baughman that they believed he might qualify for civil commitment. In June 2009, Virginia authorities decided this was indeed the case. Without filing any additional charges, they held him in prison for a further 25 months in order to assess his behavior.

One day, a psychologist arrived at the prison, and said he wanted to interview Baughman to determine whether he was a sexually violent predator. Baughman said he would be glad to answer questions but wanted an attorney present. At that, the psychologist left, never to return.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Virginia State Crime Commissions Draft Agenda for November 14, 2013 Meeting is Now Available

 

The first of three meetings for 2013 was held back on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. I previously posted the two statements that I made during that meeting.

The next (second) meeting is scheduled for 11:00AM on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at the General Assembly Building in Senate Room A.

Public comment will be heard after each topic.

As of September 24th this is the Draft Agenda:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Action Alert: Federal Bill HR3102 Denies Food Stamps to Anyone Convicted of Sexual Abuse


Updated September 22, 2013:

Earlier today eAdvocate sent me an email pointing out Sub-section C in HR3102 

(c) Inapplicability to Convictions Occurring on or Before Enactment- The amendments made by this section shall not apply to a conviction if the conviction is for conduct occurring on or before the date of the enactment of this Act.  
 
So if Sub-section C remains in HR3102 then all current/existing Registered Sex Offenders would not be denied Food Stamp benefits.  

But every year 40,000 – 60,000 new citizens are added to the U.S. Sex Offender Registries nationwide and because their conviction would be after this bill becomes law (if it becomes law) they and their families would be denied all access to Food Stamps (SNAP) with no petition process or waiting period option. 

Sub-Section C could be removed before being passed affecting all RSO’s. 

Sub-Section C could be amended to a specific date in time already passed and then a portion of RSO’s would fall before the randomly selected date and then there’d be the group that falls after the date. 

Date, no date in the end it doesn’t matter. 

Hateful legislation based on myth, fear and vengeance that creates “us” and “them”, the “haves” and the “have nots” all because of a conviction (usually because of a plea deal due to fear, ignorance or lack of financial abilities) is not how our government subsides assistance programs should be managed. They think its justified disqualification but when the spouses and children become collateral damage being denied housing, food or ability to earn income (for the RSO) there is NOTHING justified in such an action! 
 

So I am going to reiterate a point I made in my original post 2 days ago to all of you. 
 

Just because the current version of this proposed Federal Legislation won’t affect you or your loved one doesn’t mean you take the attitude of “if it doesn’t affect me why should I care”?  The majority of vengeful, myth-based, punitive, retroactive and/or unconstitutional proposals that I have publicly opposed over the last 5 years would NOT have affected my family but they were wrong and needed to be opposed, so I did it for everyone who couldn't or wouldn't speak up, because it was the right thing to do. 
 
Any punitive RSO restriction imposed across the board affect us all and because no one else but those of us affected will ever speak up for RSO’s……….. means we MUST speak up each and every time!  
 
There could be a time down the road when you or your loved one needs Food Stamp/SNAP assistance and if this Bill has already become law (in ANY form) depending on the final draft there will be RSO’s somewhere who are being denied assistance and maybe you’re included or maybe you aren’t. That’s a lottery no one wants to win are you going to take the chance by not opposing this bill today? 
 
Please take a few minutes and contact your one member of Congress and our two U.S. Senators form Virginia (see below for all contact information). 
 
Thank you. 
 
Mary

Original Post:

Back in May there was a bill moving through Washington, D.C. that was of great concern. S954-Federal Farm Bill with a last minute Vitter amendment to Deny Food Stamps to “Rapists” and “Pedophiles” which I previously posted about.  

Then in July ALL Food Stamp (SNAP) references were removed from the Senate Farm Bill, so the issue was on hold. 

But then 4 days ago on September 16th a new House bill HR3102 Patroned by Rep. Frank Lucas [R-OK3] with almost $40 Billion of cuts to the Food Stamp Program (SNAP) was filed.
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Private Prison Industry: Making Profits By Incarcerating, Detaining, Starving and Denying Basic Medical Care All Because the States Don’t Want the Responsibility / Cost Anymore

 
Even in my boring day-to-day errands and tasks my advocacy and this platform seeps into conversation.

Today I met a young man at his place of business who was assisting me and I mentioned his company invests in Private Prisons and that is why I was ceasing all business with his company, something I had meant to do for a few years but first I had to make other arrangements. I regret not making the change sooner.

He not only was unaware that his employer invests in this deplorable industry, but he wasn’t even aware this practice existed and asked for more information which I happily provided.  We discussed the for-profit prison system where inmates are denied 3 meals a day, denied basic medical care, have a high rate of death and must pay exorbitant canteen and telephone services. Then I explained how these companies must keep their beds full so they lobby individual State Legislatures and the Federal Government to pass mandatory minimum laws and to increases sentences so that their “customers” will be required to stay a certain amount of time no matter what a judge or jury may have thought about their specific case. Then of course I touched on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and how we’ve swept up not only innocent citizens but by publicly labeling them a “predator” we’ve destroyed any chance for them ever to succeed at anything. When we were saying goodbye and he stated he was very interested in learning more I handed him a business card and then realized since starting this blog on July 1st  (after departing from RSOL-VA) I haven’t addressed private prisons here.

In Virginia we have one GEO Group run State Prison. Plus there is a Federal Immigration Detainment/Detention facility in Virginia that most citizens have never heard of.

So I am going to list some basic information on the Private Prison industry including articles and reports for anyone who is interested in this issue and I hope once you understand that allowing a private company to manage the incarceration, rehabilitation or detention of people for a profit is a violation of human rights. And ANY company or individual who invests in this vial practice is making money on the suffering, convictions and even on the deaths of other people.

Mary Devoy
 

False Justice: Eight Myths That Convict the Innocent by Jim Petro and Nancy Petro

 
One of the blogs I follow, Wrongful Convictions posted a video of Jim and Nancy Petro today and referenced their 2011 book. I was curious so I previewed the book’s contents and not only am I going to buy the book but I’ve added it to the list of recommended Books, Studies and Reports for followers, http://goo.gl/a1NWwf

1.       “Everyone in prison claims innocence”
2.       “Our system almost never convicts an innocent person”
3.       “Only the guilty confess”
4.       “Wrongful convictions are caused by innocent human error”
5.       “An eyewitness is the best testimony”
6.       “Conviction errors get corrected on appeal”
7.       “It dishonors the victim to question a conviction”
8.      “If the justice system has problems the pros will fix it” 

All great points, I can’t wait to read the book! 
 
For now I'll watch the video.

Mary

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

U.S Senate Committee on the Judiciary September 18, 2013 Public Hearing Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences

 
Today the U.S. Senate (Washington, D.C.) held a hearing on the Effectiveness of Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences. 

Previously the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary has held two hearings this year (June 14 and July 19) on the Over-Criminalization of America which is closely related to Mandatory Minimum Sentences.

  • June 14, 2013 House Hearing you can watch the video of the hearing and read the written testimony from the Chairman and the invited speakers. 
  • July 19, 2013 House Hearing you can watch the video of the hearing and read the written testimony from the invited speakers. 
If you chose to watch today’s (September 18th) Senate webcast you can click below

The video runs for 1 hour 35 minutes. 

Today’s Hearing Written Statements/Testimony

Invited Speakers

The main push at the Federal level with the Over-Criminalization of America and the elimination of Mandatory Minimum has been for drug convictions. 

So far no national group has taken a public stand to reform the Federal sentences for viewing or sharing child pornography images. Viewing and downloading free on-line images have resulted in prison sentences of a 100+ years whereas being the person who commits the abuse, produces the image and/or sells the image for money faces a much lower sentence. 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.  

Mr. Tolman’s written/oral statement from today’s hearing was excellent!  
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

7 Weeks From Today is Election Day 2013: Not Only Can You Vote for Virginia’s Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General But All 100 Virginia House Seats Are Up for Re-election

 
On November 5, 2013 Virginians will be voting for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, here are the candidates. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected separately and could be of different political parties.

In this years election there is one current State Senator running for Lieutenant Governor and two Senators running for Attorney General, if any of these candidates win an Administration position on November 5th then there will need to be a special election for their State Senate seats. Those districts could be unrepresented for the first few weeks of the yearly General Assembly session depending on the date the Governor selects for the special election. If you live in one of these three districts you need to know of a special election date being set, who those candidates are and if any bills during the session pass through the Senate chamber when there is no representative for your district available to vote.

The Lieutenant Governor is not just first in the line of succession to the governor but is the presiding officer of the State Senate during the yearly General Assembly session, pursuant to the Constitution of Virginia. The Lt. Governor can cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate (40 District seats) on key procedural issues, but not on the state budget, taxes, the election of judges and amendments to the Virginia Constitution Those bills require the approval of the majority of members elected to the Senate.

Also on November 5, 2013 most Virginians will be voting for their representative in the Virginia House. All 100 seats in the House are up for re-election; 45 districts/seats only have the incumbent running unopposed so there is no real race. But there are 10 House districts/seats with no incumbent running so no matter who wins it will be someone with new ideas and opinions. The 4th District race has no incumbent and is uncontested, it's just been given to the lone candidate which by the way was a party swap. With no challengers willing to step forward for almost half of our districts it means those of you who reside in a district with more than one candidate actually have a choice and you need to educate yourself about the candidates and make every effort to get to the polls on November 5th because the only chance at change within the Virginia House of Delegates, lies in your hands.

To see who is running for Delegate in your district, here are the candidates.

You should contact the candidate(s) in your district, introduce yourself, tell them what issues concern you and let them know you will be voting on November 5th. Have your family and friends do the same.
 
Are you registered to vote? Are your family members?

Do you know the deadline to register for the November election?


  • October 15, 2013  is the Last Day to Register to Vote in General Election
  • October 29, 2013  is the Last Day to Apply for Absentee Ballot by Mail
  • November 2, 2013 is the Last Day to Apply for Absentee Ballot in Person
If you aren’t registered, you should be.

If you qualify to get your rights restored and you haven’t tried, you should.

If you’ve previously applied for your rights and were denied, you should try again after a new Virginia Governor takes office in January 2014.

Delegates and Senators listen to their constituents and they know if you’re a registered voter or not and if you are a voter then they listen much more intently.

Be sure that your voice is heard on November 5th 2013. VOTE!

Mary Devoy

Monday, September 9, 2013

Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission September 9, 2013 Meeting: Discussed Increasing Child Pornography Sentence and Peugh v. U.S. Decision (Ex Post Facto in Sentencing)

 
Just a reminder to the readers, the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission is not a Legislative branch like the Virginia State Crime Commission . The VCSC is a judicial branch; they mainly conduct studies and gather data on sentencing guidelines in Virginia. 

Also, I previously posted about the VCSC and that the number one fiscal request they receive for proposed legislation during the yearly Virginia General Assembly session is “Sex Offender” bills. 

Today the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission met in Richmond, their third of four meetings for 2013 and I attended.

This was the first meeting ever that they posted a draft agenda, ahead of time. The Power Point Presentations were not yet posted on their website when I was typing this post but they should be up very soon.

The Commission is considering 5 possible topics/sentences to revise and propose in their December Report.

Remember if the VCSC recommends a change in sentencing a bill is NOT required at the yearly General Assembly to make the legislative change. It goes into their annual report and will automatically become law UNLESS a bill is submitted at the yearly session to STOP it from becoming law and that rarely happens.

When today's Presentations are finally loaded pay attention to recommendation #5- Reanalyzing Child Solicitation and Child Pornography Offenses. In the list of concerns they’ve noted that possession carries a much higher punishment than production, which I agree is ridiculous. The creators (producers) of child pornography are usually the ones abusing the children, they are “supplying” the market and in my opinion the producers and sellers should be more significantly punished than the viewers/down-loaders/sharers are. But when reading the presentation the statutory maximums are very significant so unless they’re looking to make if life I think they have it covered knowing the mandatory minimums in all these crimes trumps the sentencing guidelines. Unless the 2013 VCSC recommendation is greater than the mandatory minimum it really won’t be much of a difference.