Thursday, January 23, 2014

SB454 Committee Discussion Reveals the True Intention of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry, it is Punishment!

During yesterdays Senate Courts of Justice hearing SB454 - Amends the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act to add solicitation of prostitution from a minor was discussed and voted on. Other than it missing a start date of July 1, 2014, I did not oppose it.  

When the patron made his argument for SB454 to become law in Virginia the reasoning became public and the true intention of our Registry was not only revealed but supported by a unanimous 15-0 vote of the Committee. Yesterdays “sales pitch” I believe places the Virginia Sex Offender Registry even further at risk of being Constitutionally compromised.

I have reviewed the audio from yesterdays hearing; 3 times to be sure I have captured it completely and accurately. 

Senator Obenshain: 

“Looking at Human Trafficking issues …..and registration is not required today, this is a significant impediment…… the people engaging in the consumer side of sexual activity….. in a survey of individuals concerning what would deter them from engaging in commercial sex…. NOTHING was more successful than listing the potential offender on the Sex Offender Registry. 

Not even putting their face on billboards……. or putting them on television…… listing them on the Sex Offender Registry was the number one deterrent”. 

A deterrent is defined as 
deterrent - something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
difficulty - a factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result; "serious difficulties were encountered in obtaining a pure reagent"
albatross, millstone - (figurative) something that hinders or handicaps; "she was an albatross around his neck"
bind - something that hinders as if with bonds
diriment impediment - (canon law) an impediment that invalidates a marriage (such as the existence of a prior marriage)
drag - something that slows or delays progress; "taxation is a drag on the economy"; "too many laws are a drag on the use of new land"
obstacle, obstruction - something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted; "lack of imagination is an obstacle to one's advancement"; "the poverty of a district is an obstacle to good education"; "the filibuster was a major obstruction to the success of their plan"
deterrent - tending to deter; "the deterrent effects of high prices"
preventative, preventive - tending to prevent or hinder

If Virginia is using registration as a Sex Offender as a deterrent, much like incarceration, probation, fines, restitution or community service then this changes the very nature of the registry.  

In the context of Senator Obenshain’s proposal from yesterday the Commonwealth’s intent is to utilize the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry as part of the punishment for criminal activities.  

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Restitution Amounts for Child Pornography Viewing/Possession

Some form of restitution for damages by the person who produced the image(s)/ actually abused the child is reasonable. 

But $1.2 million from one Virginian who had a $2 million retirement fund and did NOT have ANY contact with the child, is madness! 
The decision in this case is an extremely important one, we’ll have to wait until June 2014 for it. 

Court considers what child porn viewer owes victim, January 22, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court justices expressed compassion for a woman raped as a child as they struggled with how much money should be paid to her by one man convicted of possessing pornographic images of the abuse that have spread among thousands of online viewers. 

The woman known as "Amy" was in the courtroom, her legal team said, for arguments in which the justices talked frankly about the abuse she and other victims of child pornography suffer from those who look at the pictures.

"The woman has undergone serious psychiatric harm because of her knowledge that there are thousands of people out there viewing her rape," Justice Antonin Scalia said early in the hourlong arguments. 

Yet the court seemed to wrestle with determining how much restitution for counseling, lost income and legal fees any single defendant should be asked to pay. 

The justices heard an appeal from Doyle Randall Paroline, who was held liable by a federal appeals court for the nearly $3.4 million judgment associated with the ongoing Internet trade and viewing of images of Amy being raped by her uncle when she was 8 and 9 years old. 

Paroline had hundreds of images of children on his computer when he was arrested; two were of Amy.

"He's guilty of the crime, but to sock him with all of her psychiatric costs and everything else because he had two pictures of her. Congress couldn't have intended that," Scalia said in an exchange with Amy's lawyer, Paul Cassell.

Several other justices also said they were troubled by the apparent lack of a link between the crime and the restitution order, even as Cassell sought to explain to the court that the number of images possessed by Paroline might be relevant in determining jail time or a fine, but not to the harm inflicted on Amy, now in her 20s.

When Congress wrote the 1994 law giving victims of child pornography and other sexual crimes the right to collect restitution from people convicted of the crimes, it meant to make it easy for the victim to collect, Cassell said.

The idea, he said, is that courts could hold everyone responsible for the total amount. Most people, including Paroline, could afford only a small portion, but a few wealthier defendants might be able to pay the bulk of the judgment. 

"We're not asking for double recovery. Amy simply wants to be made whole. She wants to recover her psychological counseling costs and her losses," Cassell said. 

She has so far received more than $1.75 million, Cassell said. Of that total, $1.2 million came from one man, Arthur Staples, a Virginia sheriff's deputy who had more than $2 million in retirement savings.