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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