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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Action Alert: HB523- Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo Mandating Registration of Juveniles as Sex Offenders for a Minimum of 10 Years Will be Heard by House Full Committee on Monday February 3, 2014

 
Late yesterday (Friday January 31st 5PM) HB523 – Mandated Registration of juveniles as a Sex Offender for a minimum of 10 years was heard by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee. 

As in past years the patron Delegate Albo starts by telling everyone in the room what the opposition will be saying against his bill and “that each side will never agree with the other”. Also as in past years there was a line of 6 people there to speak against the bill and no one other than a VSP Representative who gave false information for a justification to vote for the bill and yet it still passed out of Sub-Committee almost unanimously.  

Delegate Albo incorrectly directed the VSP Representative to tell the Committee members (and the entire room) that if HB523 does NOT pass that Virginia will lose Federal funding (10% of its Byrne Grant) because Virginia will be unable to claim Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliance. This is incorrect per the AWA Final Guidelines . The VSP Representative also told the Committee a higher previous 10% Byrne Grant amount of $300,000, last year for Virginia (per another speaker in opposition of the bill) the actually amount at this time would be $275,000 and its been dropping $25,000-$50,000 every two years for the last 6 years. 

I then walked over to the VSP Representative whom I advised had out-dated information and I was happy to share the Final Guidelines with him, he just smiled and said nothing. I believe he knew he gave false information to the Committee and didn’t expect me to point it out to him or then the entire room. 

Before I began my official statement I told the Committee members that mandating juvenile registration has NOT been a requirement of AWA/SORNA guidelines for the last few years even though patrons continue to claim it is. 

Then as in past years certain members of the Criminal Sub-Committee began personal “side-bar” conversations VERY loudly while I made my opposition statement in an effort to drown-me-out and/or to show they find my statements irrelevant and irritating. Their juvenile rudeness  did cause me to skip parts of my statement out of concern they would stop me mid-way through and I was forced to continue to raise my voice as I read into the microphone so their “protest” was not louder than my statement but it has never dissuaded me before and it didn’t yesterday. 

I did find it comical that 2 Delegates (sub-committee members, I won’t say who) kept asking legal counsel to read aloud to the room what 3 sexual crimes (18.2-61, 18.2-67.1, and 18.2-67.2) were mandating registration.  

One of the 6 speakers was a Commonwealth’s Attorney with many years of prosecuting cases and he asked the Sub-Committee to allow the judges to continue to make the determination of registration and NOT make it a mandate. 

When all the speakers were finished the patron said to everyone, “it’s really not worth debating because the two-sides will never agree. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. “You just have to choose which one you want 

Or that another sub-committee member (I won’t say who) after all the speakers against the bill were finished (I checked the audio twice to confirm I have this completely accurate) said, “We sometimes get bills that people think we’ve totally lost our minds not to vote for them and this is one of those bills, I defy you to go home and tell your neighbors and friends at the grocery store and say we had the opportunity to put rapists on the sex offender registry who are under the age of 18 so that could know who they were, where they lived, whether they are in your neighborhood. I understand… (inaudible), we hear them year after year, I suggest, encourage, beseech my colleagues to vote for this measure”. 

So, our elected officials who are NOT supposed to vote on emotion but instead on facts, did just that.
Almost all of them ignored 15 years worth of research, of cases, of juveniles who’ve’ been forced to register and those who haven’t and what the results have all concluded because “Saving-Face” at the grocery store is at risk. Nice!

Here are the votes from Friday’s Criminal Sub-Committee hearing on HB523 (9-1-0-1) 

YEAS--Bell, Robert B., Albo, Cline, Gilbert, Miller, Villanueva, Morris, Adams, Herring--9.
NAYS--Watts--1.
ABSTENTIONS--0.
NOT VOTING--Mason--1. 

HB523 now heads to the Full House Courts of Justice Committee to be voted on this Monday February 3, 2014 and if it passes it goes to the entire House to be voted on. 

I’m asking every reader to please immediately email every member of the Full House Courts of Justice Committee (full list is below) and tell them to vote “NO” on HB523 this coming Monday afternoon.  

If you are wondering what to say in your email you can borrow verbiage from the January 10, 2014 Post OR you can borrow from my full public statement which is here: 

Members of the Sub-Committee, 

Researchers, Therapy Providers, Attorneys and National Organizations have spent years studying the juvenile portion of America’s Sex Offender laws, registries, rehabilitation and re-entry…..they ALL conclude mandating juveniles to register as Sex Offenders does MORE HARM THAN GOOD. 

Kids are not adults. The 2009 Virginia Crime Commission spent a lot of time and research on this topic and they concluded that juveniles are impulsive, they do not think about risks or consequences and punishing them like adults is neither productive for the juveniles nor good for society. 
 

 
When you know better, you’re supposed to do better.  

But it seems some are under the false assumption that a juvenile who commits a sexual offense is a lost cause AND an extreme threat. 

The facts are
1.       Juveniles respond extremely well to sex offense treatment and therapy
2.       Juvenile recidivism rates of a future sex offense is even lower than the adults very low re-offense rate
3.       They are the lowest re-offense group of all juvenile crimes
4.       Requiring juveniles to register as Sex Offenders for any amount of time creates an unshakable label that undermines all productive steps for that juvenile into society 

With mandated registration….ALL positive steps made in therapy will be undone by the ostracizing, bullying, isolation, banishment, gossip and judgment directed at the offender by their peers, teachers, and neighbors. 

Registration is NOT just a posting on the Internet, it is a long list of ever changing legal restrictions of where you can and can not be, who you can and can not be with and the State makes NO effort to share that ever evolving list of do’s and don’t even after 5 separate attempts (2014-SB553) over the last 6 sessions to mandate the Virginia State Police inform Registered citizens of their legal restrictions and regulations. To date the VSP still vigorously opposes disseminating this critical information. 

Once on the registry the juvenile MUST re-register every 90 days report ANY change in address, phone or email. Failure to do so means a new Felony charge.  

Problem is … a juvenile can not necessarily drive themselves to the VSP in order to maintain compliance.  

To comply they can only submit changes in-person during business and school hours…This means the parent is not only losing pay but possibly agitating their employer and the juvenile is missing school. Otherwise face the impending doom of a new Felony levied upon a juvenile who must depend on a second party to comply….. It’s absurd!

Today in Virginia we do register juveniles……it’s left in the hands of the judges that YOU the Virginia lawmakers have appointed. The fiscal impact statement reviewed the last 3 years of Juvenile cases….if this mandate becomes law, registration of juveniles in the Commonwealth would increase by 816%.

By tying the hands of our judges with mandates, it ensures justice is unobtainable in the Commonwealth because the facts, the evidence, witness testimony and first-time offenses are trivial and NOT worthy of ANY consideration.

One-size-does-not-fit-all!

The Commonwealth should want these juveniles to become positive and productive adults, citizens, spouses and one day…… even good parents.  

Their success is our success and their failure is our failure…..mandatory juvenile registration guarantees failure for all. 

Thank you.
 

Here are all their email addresses and phone numbers. 

2014 - House Courts of Justice Committee 

 
 
Party
Email
Richmond, VA. During Session
Chairman-
David Albo*
R
804-698-1042
Les Adams**
 R
 804-698-1016
Robert Bell*                                      *Also on VSCC
R
804-698-1058
Jeffrey Campbell*
 R
804-698-1006
Benton "Ben" Chafin*
R
804- 698-1004
Benjamin Cline**
*Also on VCSC
R
804-698-1024
C. Todd Gilbert**            *Also on VSCC
R
804-698-1015
Gregory Habeeb
R
804-698-1008
Charniele Herring* *Also on VSCC
D
804-698-1046
Patrick Hope
D
804-698-1047
Mark Keam
D
804-698-1035
Terry Kilgore
R
804-698-1001
James "Jay" Leftwich*
R
804-698-1078
G. Manoli Loupassi *Also on VSCC
R
804-698-1068
Jennifer McClellan
D
804-698-1071
T. Monty Mason**
D
804-698-1093
Jackson Miller*
R
804-698-1050
J. Randall Minchew
R
804-698-1010
Richard Morris**
R
804-698-1064
David Toscano
D
804-698-1057
Ron Villanueva*
R
804-698-1021
Vivian Watts*
D
804-698-1039

*  -On Criminal Sub-Committee
*  -On Both House Committees that hear majority of RSO Bills
*   -Newly Elected 2014