Monday, May 19, 2014

Federal Bill HR4660: Sponsored by Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf. Approriations, Funding and Grants for FY 2015: A Hodgepodge Mix of Unrelated Issues All in One Bill

HR4660 Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes.
HR4660 is not a bill I would typically post on here, but I am doing so that you all can see how much money is spent in one bill with a hodgepodge mix of unrelated issues.
For those of you who scan the text of HR4660 you’ll find Federal Grants for sexual assault services, transitional housing for victims of sexual assaults, the back-log of rape kits (which is already covered and pending in the Justice For All Reauthorization Act of 2013 S822, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 S47 and the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 HR4323), victim’s of trafficking (which includes prostitution and slavery) blocking child pornography on-line and funding for the PROTECT Act of 2008, just to mention a few.
But this is the one allocation I wanted to highlight of the proposed legislation:
State and local law enforcement assistance
(10) $21,000,000 for sex offender management assistance, as authorized by the Adam Walsh Act, and related activities, of which $1,000,000 is for the National Sex Offender Public Website;
So $20 million from the Federal Government to be divided among 50 states, the District of Columbia, 5 U.S Territories and 566 Tribal Governments to manage their mandatory (Federal Adam Walsh Act of 2006) Sex Offender Registries.

HR4660 also includes the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program which is $376,000,000. This is the Grant that the Adam Walsh Act uses as “bait” for the 50 States, D.C., U.S. Territories and Tribal Governments to become AWA compliant/SMART Office certified.  

10% of the Byrne Grant will be withheld from those who are not AWA compliant. 

 As of today that includes:
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
34.   Plus the District of Columbia  (which is governed by the U.S. Congress, creator of the Adam Walsh Act and SMART Office)
35.   Territory of American Samoa
36.  Territory of Puerto Rico
37.   Too Many Tribal Lands to list here  

The Federal Government is baiting the states with grants for these programs but in the end the states are footing the bill.         

We know from an October 2011 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that I submitted to the Virginia State Police (the monitor and manager of Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders) that the VSP spent $5.48 million in 2010 monitoring and verifying offenders who weren’t incarcerated OR on probation. So out of the entire 2010 population of 17,623 the $5.48 million was for only 6,562 of them. That was only 37.25% of our entire RSO population. That works out to be $835 per RSO per year. 

The majority of Virginia RSO’s will be released from prison one day and then released from VA-DOC Probation and then VSP will be responsible for monitoring and managing them. 

Plus every year an additional 800-1,400 new Virginians become Registered Sex Offenders. That works out to be an average of 20 more per week and 88 more per month. 

We know from a February 2011 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that I submitted to the Virginia State Police 83% of Virginia’s RSO’s are classified as Violent (instead of Non-Violent) due to Virginia’s current inferior 2-Tier, Conviction-Based (instead of a 3-Tiered, Risk-Based) Classification System making 83% of offenders “lifers”. The Worst-of-the-Worst (lifer category) should be 12-22% of our total RSO population IF we evaluated them by risk of future re-offense instead of by conviction/ legal statute.     

This means the VSP will be monitoring 83% of them until they die, which could be another 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. 

As of today (May 19, 2014) there are at least 20,700 RSO’s in Virginia and at least 8,400 are being monitored by the VSP, almost 2,000 more then back in 2010 which had a $5.48 million price tag and we still have 5 to 7 months left in 2014 (depending on when the VSP does the official count this year, it had been every December 1st until 2013 and they did it on October 15th  in an attempt to make the growth look as though it was the lowest year ever when it would have been one of the highest ever). Based on the past costs and the anticipated growth by year end I approximate 2014’s cost of the VSP Registry and monitoring to be close to $7 million and it’s not coming from the Federal Government, it’s coming from Virginia taxpayers. 

More People = More Money. 

But do more people and more money equal more safety? No it doesn’t!

The recidivism rates, the studies and reports over the last 20 years conclude labeling citizens as Sex Offenders, placing them on public registries and monitoring/managing them for 25 years to life all under the threat of a new felony has not made us any safer. 

We keep expanding the list of sex crimes, making misdemeanors into felonies and reducing the burden of proof while raising the penalties with mandatory minimums, life sentences and lifetime monitoring even though the data shows no positive benefit.

 December 2008               October 2013
Ratio of Virginians on the Registry                                                        1 out of every 523             1 out of every 393
Ratio of Adult (18 year or older) Virginians on the Registry            1 out of every 401             1 out of every 301
Ratio of Adult, Males on Virginia Registry                                          1 out of every 207             1 out of every 155 

By 2018 I estimate the Virginia Registry will reach 25,000. At that point 1 out of every 126 Adult Males in Virginia will be a Registered Sex Offender. Based on this grow and past costs I estimate the VSP cost of the Registry in 2018 to be close to $9 million. 

It’s a race to the bottom that no one wins.