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Friday, January 10, 2014

Action Alert: Virginia Bill HB523 Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo – Mandating Registration as a Sex Offender for Juveniles

 
 HB523 

Requires juveniles adjudicated delinquent of rape, forcible sodomy, or object sexual penetration to register on the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. The bill also provides a procedure for removal of the name of a person who was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile from the Registry. 

So not to be a pessimist on every Action Alert, I will start this post by saying……… 

There are two “good” things about this version compared to proposals from previous years
  • As written it is not retroactive there is a start date of July 1, 2014. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try and remove that date in Committee, they’ve done that before.
  • The other is after 10 years a petition can be submitted for removal, in past years there was no option to petition at all. But again, they could remove this portion during Committee.
OK, now onto why this proposal should NOT become law! 

Today in Virginia we do register juveniles as Sex Offenders but it’s left in the hands of the judges that the Virginia lawmakers appoint to the bench. The judges have all the evidence of the individual case in front of them to determine if registration is appropriate for each specific juvenile.  

This proposed mandate will take that very important decision out of the courtroom where it should remain, just like a mandatory minimum does.

HB523 adds the juveniles to our existing public registry whereas one or two previous versions were for a private (authorities only) registry. 

Back on May 1, 2013 I emailed all 140 Virginia Legislators (except the 15 newly elected Delegates) a link to the 111 page report: Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US by Nicole Pittman with Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org/node/115179 and the USA Today article on the report. 

And here we are 8 months after I emailed them this report with a proposal to mandate registration for juveniles. 

For 6 sessions now I have shared with the lawmakers the list of books, reports and studies by experts in the field that all conclude juveniles should NOT be required to register as Sex Offenders.  

Books:
·        Sexual Offenses and Offenders: Theory, Practice, and Policy by Karen J. Terry, 2013
·        Understanding, Assessing and Rehabilitating Juvenile Sexual Offenders by Phil Rich, 2011
·        Age of Consent (At Issue Series) by Olivia Ferguson and Hayley Mitchell Haugen, 2010
·        Juvenile Sexual Offending: Causes, Consequences, and Correction by Gail Ryan, Tom F. Leversee and Sandy Lane, 2010
·        The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality and Law by Vanessa Place, 2010
·        The Perversion of Youth: Controversies in the Assessment and Treatment of Juvenile Sex Offenders by Frank DiCataldo, 2009
·        An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending by Franklin E. Zimring, 2009
·        Sex Offenders: Identification, Risk Assessment, Treatment, and Legal Issues by Fabian M. Saleh, Albert J. Grudzinskas, John M. Bradford & Daniel J. Brodsky, 2009
·        The Juvenile Sex Offender by Howard E. Barbaree and William L. Marshall, 2008
·        Juvenile Sex Offenders: What the Public Needs to Know by Camille Gibson and Donna M. Vandiver, 2008 

Reports/Studies:
·        Sex Offender Registry Platform: The National Juvenile Justice Network, July 2012
·        Romeo and Juliet: The 21st Century Juvenile Sex Offenders by Chauntelle R. Wood, March 2012
·        The Case for Modifying Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Requirements in Delaware, by Stand Up for What’s Right and Just, 2011
·        Adolescent Sexual Behavior and the Law by Brittany Logino Smith & Glen A. Kercher, March 2011
·        Sex Offender Registration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Legal and Policy Implications of Registering Juvenile Sex Offenders by Carole Petersen & Susan Chandler, 2011
·        Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Requirements Deter Juvenile Sex Crimes? By Medical University of South Carolina, May 2010
·        Net-widening in Delaware: The Overuse of Registration and Residential Treatment for Youth Who Commit Sex Offenses, by Chrysanthi S. Leon, David L. Burton & Dana Alvare, February 2010
·        Youth Sex Offenses Fact and Fiction by Justice Policy Institute, February 2009
·        Effects of Sex Offender Registration Policies on Juvenile Justice Decision Making by Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Debajyoti Sinha & Kevin Armstrong, January 2009
·        Resolution in Opposition of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as it Applies to Juvenile Offenders, by The Council of State Governments, December 2008
·        Justice Served? The High Cost of Juvenile Sex Offender Registration by Phoebe Geer, 2008
·        No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the U.S Human Rights Watch Study, September 2007
·        What Research Shows About Adolescent Sex Offenders: NationalCenter on Sexual Behavior of Youth, by Mark Chaffin, Barbara Bonner and Keri Pierce, July 2003
·        Coming of Age in America: The Misapplication of Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Laws to Juveniles by Elizabeth Garfinkle, January 2003 

The willful ignorance by our elected officials is beyond frustrating! 

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

But it seems when it comes to Registered Sex Offenders or mandating juveniles register, knowledge is not power for the Virginia Legislators. I’m sure they must think to themselves “why does that Mary Devoy keep bringing up those darn facts”. The same thing routinely occurs when I reference actual recidivism rates for Sex Offenders the room goes silent and no lawmaker will look directly at me.  

Instead of listening to facts or reading the research we have some Legislators who continue to push the logical fallacy that juvenile sex offenders can not be rehabilitated, that they are mentally disturbed, that they will grow up to become Adult Sex Offenders, that being on a public Registry is not punitive but simply administrative and that by mandating them to be posted on a public Registry is paramount to public safety. 

The sponsors of past proposals have even claimed to be Federal Adam Walsh Act AWA /SORNA compliant juveniles must be mandated to register even though every year a mandate is proposed I remind them the SORNA Final Guidelines  no longer require juvenile registration. 

For anyone who believes registration of juveniles is a good idea or equals “justice”, here are some facts. 

Action Alert: Virginia Bill SB14 Reviving the Crimes Against Nature Statute

 
Update: 

News Articles about This Bill:
·        Virginia Scraps Plan To Make Oral Sex Between 17-Year-Olds A Felony , January 16, 2014
·        Va. Sen. Garrett’s revision of anti-sodomy law advances; he says point is to protect minors, January 15, 2014
·        Virginia senator's sodomy bill gains traction, January 15, 2014
·        Virginia anti-sodomy bill could punish consenting teens, January 14, 2014
 

Original Post:

I have been keeping up with all the articles on Senator Garrett’s Crimes Against Nature redo Senate Bill 14 and the ACLU of Virginia is on it!  

Virginia Legislators Propose New "Crimes Against Nature" Law, January 8, 2014
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/virginia-legislators-propose-new-crimes-against-nature-law#
Virginia predicts need for more prison beds if oral sex is banned for teens, January 9, 2014
This Guy Wants To Outlaw Oral Sex Between Teenagers In Virginia, January 10, 2014
Ultra-conservative senator in Virginia is proposing a bill that would make oral sex between teenagers a FELONY January 10, 2014

Whether you are a supporter or not of the ACLU, it doesn’t matter and you need to read on. 

This ridiculous bill must be stopped! 

Creating a criminal felony for two 16 year olds, two 17 year olds or a 16 and a 17 year old who engage in consensual (no force, threat or intimidation) oral sex is idiotic!  

It’s bad enough Virginia charges a 17 year old who has consensual genital sex with a 15 or 16 year old with a misdemeanor when there is no force, threat or intimidation, but a felony for oral sex?  

So much for those people who continue to claim the ago of consent is Virginia is 15 years old. If the Virginia Age of Consent (the age in which all sex is consensual with anyone at and above that age) was actually 15 years old then these acts would not be crimes. 

It’s like we’re going backwards with this puritanical and ideological law. 

I have two additional concerns that have NOT been addressed in the above articles. 

  1. With no age gap allowance in this statute not only would any minors become felons for oral sex but so would the 18, 19 and 20 year old boyfriends and girlfriends. 
A 20 year old dating a 17 year old or an 18 year old dating a 16 year old, these are age-appropriate relationships not creepy adults taking advantage of minors but they would become felony crimes if a one-size-fits-all law is adopted. 

A 3 or 4 year age gap allowance needs to be added to this statute if it moves forward to become law. 

  1. Anyone who is convicted under this new Crimes Against Nature statute would then become a Registered Sex Offender (RSO). Even though no force, threat or intimidation was involved. 
Not only would they become an RSO but they’d be classified as Violent (not Non-Violent) which would mean they would be “lifers” in Virginia with no opportunity to ever petition the courts to be removed. 

As an RSO:
·        If they are still in high school they could be expelled, before receiving their degree
·        They would be prohibited from attending school functions and events with friends
·        They would most likely be denied acceptance to any Virginia College or University
·        They would find securing any work extremely difficult as no employer wants to have their company name listed on the Virginia Registry
·        They would find leasing an apartment or home extremely challenging as no landlord wants the other neighbors complaining about leasing to an RSO
·        They’d be prohibited from loitering near schools and daycares, plus parks that share a border with a school whether they intended to or not
·        They would be required to register every 90 days, for the rest of their life
·        Anytime their residence, employment, vehicle, phone number or email address changed they would be required to notify the authorities within the allotted timeframe or face a new felony charge 

Plus their ability to worship at a church, temple or synagogue that has a daycare operating on the premises could be a serous issue as no Virginia lawmaker has answered this question I’ve posed for 6 years. 

And these are just the legal ramifications because the Commonwealth made them an RSO even though they are no threat to children or society. 

Who would want to date them? Marry them? Have kids with them? No one! 

Who wants them in their book club, on their soft-ball team, in their bible study group? No one! 

All because they had consensual oral sex, instead of consensual genital sex with their significant other! 

I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. 

I don’t care if you’re heterosexual or homosexual. 

I don’t care if you are single or married. 

I don’t care if you’re 16 years old or 96 years old. 

I don’t care if you prefer missionary position or something else. 

If the sex is consensual and age appropriate (especially in a state that allows two 15 year olds to legally have genital sex) then no one should face a felony and the lifetime stigma and burden of being a Violent Sex Offender.