last few years I’ve wondered how many autistic Registered Sex Offenders (RSO)
there are in
I’ve heard from quite a few parents of young men and a few females who were required to register for life as a Violent Sex Offender in Virginia all with Asperger’s Syndrome with the story of how their condition resulted in a conviction and what the life long stigma has created for not only the young person but the entire family. I have also wondered for some time now how many RSO’s depend on another person to drive them to their mandated re-registrations, how many have a form of dementia and could easily forget about their re-registration deadline and how many are so frail or disabled that they never leave their home or facility and depend on a VSP Trooper/Compliance Officer to come to them.
In 2011 I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the Virginia State Police asking if they keep track of RSO’s with special needs including autism (especially Asperger’s), or of those who are physically disabled, bed-ridden or have Alzheimer’s. And if so could they break the numbers into these categories and advise me of the totals.
My FOIA request for this information was denied (as expected), so I still do not know the numbers.
They even denied my request for the number of RSO’s aged 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 and 80-89 which is data they definitely have access to.
Then in 2012 at a Virginia Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board meeting in Richmond, VA during the public comment portion I raised my concerns about a high number of young autistic Virginians who are curious about sexual situations and then unfortunately end up convicted, facing many years in prison and are labeled as Sexual Offenders for life. Two of the Board members seemed very concerned about this and asked me if I had any numbers and I had to tell them that I did not because the VSP doesn’t keep track of that information even though the VSP sees every RSO in the state 1-4 times each year.
So I’ve searched for studies and reports on the issue over the last few years and found a few but not that many.
This week I found a new article on the connection of autism and child pornography that I feel everyone should read (see below).
Maybe someday soon the Virginia State Police who are responsible for managing and maintaining all RSO information will start tracking the data I requested back in 2011 so that the state can do a better job at understanding disabilities that influence illegal behaviors and how to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Tracking these details would also tell us how many of our current registered citizens cannot on their own actually fulfill the legal mandates of the registry due to their physical and or mental capacity. This would be very helpful when new and harsher laws are being proposed and debated during the yearly G.A. sessions.
If you agree that this data collection is needed here in Virginia to improve our system of educating, charging and managing citizens we label “sex offender”, please email or call your one State Delegate and your one State Senator today!
A few additional check-boxes to the VSP re-registration form in 2014 is all it would take.
Mary D. Devoy