Sunday, February 9, 2014

Virginia HB523 - Mandating Registration of Juveniles as a Public Sex Offender for a Minimum of 10 years, But Probably for Life

Tomorrow HB523-Mandated Registration of juveniles as a Sex Offender for a minimum of 10 years will be read for the second time on the floor of the Virginia House chamber. You can watch it live. It usually starts at 12 noon but because Tuesday is Cross-Over Day they are convening at 10AM tomorrow. 
For past posts on HB523:

I could compose another post on all the REAL reasons NOT to pass HB523, but today I’m going to focus on the Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA issue that the patron has raised numerous times and I’m going to give you facts and references from both Virginia and across the county.
If you have not emailed or called your one Virginia Delegate in the last week about HB523, please Email or call  them tomorrow and them to vote “NO” on HB523.
These are not my personal opinions or feelings on the issue. Unlike the House Criminal Sub-Committee’s reasoning for voting “yea” on HB523, because they’d have to face their constituents  at the local grocery store. As an elected official it is their responsibility to educate their constituents on facts and data and that is how votes are supposed to be cast, not with emotion or fear of local back-lash. 
The January 11, 2011 Final Supplemental Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Guidelines added an exemption for juvenile offenders, giving states discretion to exempt juvenile offenders from public website posting.
HB523 is NOT the last requirement to get Virginia Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA certified by the SMART Office. There are other requirements that the Commonwealth has NOT implemented in order to save the 10% of the Byrne Grant ($275,000 and it’s been dropping $25,000-$50,000 every two years for the last 6 years) that is claimed to be at risk. To meet the OTHER requirements the Commonwealth will need to spend, much, much more than $275,000.
The Virginia Crime Commission has studied the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and AWA/SORNA compliance in the past.

1.      VSCC 2011: 2nd Presentation on SJR348 Sex Offender Registry:
2.     VSCC 2011: 1st Presentation on SJR 348 Sex Offender Registry:
3.     VSCC 2011: Presentation on HB 2396: Solicitation of a Minor:
4.     VSCC 2011: Sex Offender Registry:
Panel: Local, Campus Police Should Aid Each Other, December 7, 2011:
Va. Sex Offender Registry Sound, Crime Commission Told, December 6, 2011:
5.      VSCC 2009: Sex Offender Registry Requirements of the Adam Walsh Act: HB1898, 1928, 1962, 1963, 2274:  10-25-14: The  RSOL-VA Website is no more, I decided not to renew (pay for) another year of web-hosting I'm sorry!-Mary
As of January 2014:
I- The following states are NOT certified Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant by the SMART Office.
1.       Alaska
2.      Arizona
3.      Arkansas
4.      California
5.       Connecticut
6.      Georgia
7.       Hawaii
8.      Idaho
9.      Illinois
10.   Indiana
11.    Iowa
12.   Kentucky
13.   Maine
14.   Massachusetts
15.    Minnesota
16.   Montana
17.    Nebraska
18.   New Hampshire
19.   New Jersey
20.  New York
21.   New Mexico
22.  North Carolina
23.  North Dakota
24.  Oklahoma
25.   Oregon
26.  Rhode Island
27.   Texas
28.  Utah
29.  Vermont
30.  Virginia
31.   Washington
32.  West Virginia
33.  Wisconsin
Plus the District of Columbia (which is governed by the U.S. Congress, creator of the Adam Walsh Act and SMART Office)
·         American Samoa
·         Puerto Rico
II- Of the 33 uncertified states the following have officially announced they will NOT take steps to become Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant.
1.       Arizona
2.      California
3.      Colorado
4.      Minnesota
5.       New York
6.      North Carolina
7.       North Dakota
8.      Texas
9.      West Virginia
III- Of the 33 uncertified states the following states haven’t officially announced they will not take steps to become Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA, but they’ve submitted no packages to the SMART office for compliance review.
1.       Alaska
2.      Connecticut
3.      Georgia
4.      Illinois
5.       Indiana
6.      Montana
7.       New Jersey
8.      Rhode Island
9.      Vermont
10.   Wisconsin
So, what states are AWA/SORNA compliant? 

1.       Ohio                       Certified on 09/30/2009
2.      Delaware                   Certified on 05/03/2010
3.      Florida                      Certified on 05/18/2010
4.      South Dakota        Certified on 10/15/2010
5.       Michigan                Certified on  05/12/2011
6.      Nevada                  Certified on  05/12/2011
7.       Wyoming               Certified on  05/12/2011
8.      Louisiana               Certified on  07/07/2011
9.      Alabama                   Certified on  07/27/2011
10.   Kansas                    Certified on  07/27/2011
11.    Maryland               Certified on  07/27/2011
12.   Mississippi             Certified on  07/27/2011
13.   Missouri                 Certified on  07/27/2011
14.   South Carolina        Certified on  07/27/2011
15.    Tennessee             Certified on  09/29/2011
16.   Pennsylvania          Certified on  12/20/2012
17.    Colorado               Certified on  11/13/2013  

·         Guam
·         Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
·         U.S. Virgin Islands 

Of these 17 AWA/SORNA states how many have faced court challenges against AWA and the court ruled it was one of the following? Unconstitutional, Denial of Due Process or Punitive and NOT administrative. Eight out of 17! And in 3 of those eight states there have been more than one ruling overturning portions of their registries, 2 states have 2 and one state has had 4 rulings against the AWA related laws that the states enacted. 

Finally there is the issue of treating juveniles as adults. Kids are not adults and that’s why the philosophy of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate, not to punish, and because interventions are intended to be in the best interest of the child, the notion of imposing an adult punishment—that of registering as a sex offender—on a child without the benefit of adult due process rights or a jury trial is seriously problematic. 

The 2009 VSCC Presentation: Criminal Culpability Transfer and The Teen Brain can be read here. 

For anyone who is interested in reading more about other states and research on these issues here are some articles that are still available on-line.
Complying With Walsh Act Costs Ohio $10 Million, November 13, 2011:
Child Abuse: We’re Making the Problem Worse, November 13, 2011:
Experts say America’s approach to sex offenders only increases the likelihood that they will re-offend
States Find SORNA Non-Compliance Cheaper, November 7, 2011:
Sex Offenders: Recidivism, Re-Entry Policy and Facts, November 8, 2011:

So in the end Virginia has studied the issue of becoming AWA compliant in 2011 and in 2009 and we’ve studied treating juveniles like adults back in 2009. None of these studies concluded harsher, more restrictive laws were needed. Nor was spending millions of State dollars to save two hundred to three hundred thousand in Federal Grants.  Here is a 2009 estimate of what becoming AWA/SORNA compliant would cost Virginia and what the Byrne Grant (10%) amount would be. 

Why is HB523 needed? It isn’t! 

HB523 is based on myth, fear and emotion, not on anything concrete and I hope the votes on the House floor this week will reflect careful consideration.  

When a constituent poses a tough question or accuses a Legislator of being soft-on-crime, they have the knowledge and the experience to give the constituent the facts, to educate them and to justify a vote that inside they might fear will be perceived as unpopular but if they’ve taken the time to consider it from all points, not just one side (like most constituents) then they will make an educated vote. 

Because facts should always rise above the myth; it’s not an easy or a popular path.  

But it is right and it is just.  

This is what our Legislative and Judicial branches are supposed to be about, justice being served to everyone not just some.

Mary Devoy