Friday, April 18, 2014

Action Alert: 7 Proposals for 2015! Contact Your One Virginia Delegate, One Virginia Senator, Attorney General Mark Herring and Governor Terry McAuliffe Asking Them to Sponsor or Find Sponsors Today!

For 6 years I have been asking the Virginia Legislators to sponsor some “good” bills based on facts and empirical evidence as opposed to the legislation that they are used to sponsoring based on myth, fear and hate. 

It is time they hear their constituents ask for these reasonable changes, to ask them to patron/sponsor a bill for the next session.

The 2015 Virginia General Assembly session doesn’t begin until January 14th but the 100 Delegates and the 40 Senators will have already decided much of the legislation that they plan to sponsor by this summer .

2015 will be a short-session year and that means the Virginia Delegates are limited to a maximum of 15 bills, that’s it! Senators do not have a maximum bill limit in short session years.

November 2014 is not an election year (at the state level) so Virginia Delegates and Senators will be meeting with constituents, lobbyists and advocates earlier than if it were an election year and all will be vying for one of those 15 slots.  

The Governor and the Attorney General have their own Legislative Agendas each session, known as “Administration Bills” . So they too are looking for Delegates and Senators to patron/sponsor their bills leaving less opportunities for constituents and advocates. 

Today, I am asking all of you to contact your one Delegate and one Senator in the next 6 weeks (before June 1st). 

From 7 of the below goal, select one or two that speaks to you the most and ask your representatives to sponsor a bill proposing the change. You can ask them in a phone call, in an email or in an in-person appointment at their district office (near you). 

Do you know who your representatives are? If not, look them up Virginia Delegates and Senators.  
If you are feeling industrious you could also contact the Governor Terry McAuliffe
1111 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219  

The Attorney General Mark Herring 900 East Main Street Richmond, VA 23219
asking them to add one or two of the below proposals to their 2015 Legislative Agenda.  

The top 7 goals from my overall list of 25 in no particular order are:
  • Remove the Employer/Company name of Offenders from the VSP Public Sex Offender Registry
  • Written notice needs to be given of all current and new legal restrictions /regulations for RSO’s
  • Procedural changes to Offender Registration to make compliance attainable based on VSP operational hours
  • Implement a 3-Tier Risk-Based Classification System as opposed to our current 2-Tiered Conviction Based System
  • Form a Virginia Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) to take the politics out of policy
  • Compliant Non-Violent Offenders should be automatically removed on 15 Year Anniversary instead of petitioning the court
  • Repeal Virginia’s 21-Day (to Recant) Rule
When you send e-mails or leave voice-mails to your representatives:

  • They must be factual, don’t make numbers or facts up. If you don’t know or you aren’t sure about specific points say that and tell them you’ll get back to them with the information and be sure you do! Then next time do some prep work ahead of time so you’ll be better prepared.
  • Emails should not be any longer than a one page Word document with standard margins and font. If your email is longer than one page, edit it and if needed edit again.
  • You can be blunt but don’t be rude, condescending or threatening. Be polite, professional and respectful. Caller fined for profane message to AG’s office(Virginia), April 21, 2014
  • Your request should be about public safety and citizens in general, not about your personal plight. Keep it about others, the public and the children of the Commonwealth
  • Whining is a waste of time; they don't want to hear it and anything else you’ve said will be ignored
After you call, email or meet with them, follow up a few weeks later looking for an answer. 

If they decline to be a patron/sponsor, find out why. What are their issues, concerns hesitations?

Now you know if their concerns can be addressed they may patron a bill in the future. And even if they won’t patron it if another lawmaker does your representative may not automatically vote against it but consider a vote for it because of the knowledge you imparted on this issue. 

Also if they decline to be a patron/sponsor let them know you will ask them again next year and perhaps the year after that. Advise them this is an issue that will not go away and neither will you. 

Below you will find more details on each of these goals so you can build your email or prepare for your phone call or appointment. 

There are some issues we’ve all experienced that can only be fixed with court challenges BUT there are many of the issues we all have encountered as RSO’s or the loved ones of an RSO that can be fixed with legislation. But without proposed legislation (bills) at the yearly legislative session that only happens because someone requested it reform will never happen. If we don’t speak up, make the request then nothing will ever change. 

Standing on the sidelines helps no one. 

If you’re uncomfortable about this issue, the more you talk about it the more comfortable you’ll become. 

This action item is a step forward and you can do it from the security of your home if you like, start small but at least start advocating. 

Thank you!
Mary Devoy 

1) Remove the Employer/Company Name of Offenders from the VSP Public Sex Offender Registry so Virginia Employers aren’t being shamed for hiring the best candidate or participating in the successful re-entry of former offenders across the Commonwealth. 

Today, 29 states currently do not list any employer information publicly.  

Virginia is one of only 6 states that publicly list both the employer name and the address. 

Back in 2012 Kansas and in September 2013 Texas removed ALL employment information from their public registries. 

Recidivism (Re-offense) Rates for U.S. Registered Sex Offenders: Myth v. Reality - New Page Added Today

I am regularly asked (by reporters) for recidivism data on Registered Sex Offenders because the common misconception is RSO’s have the highest re-offense rate of any conviction. That’s because they’ve heard some Legislators and Victim’s Advocates falsely claim a 100% re-offense rate for far too long. 

Today I decided to make a dedicated page on this topic. 

It is Recidivism (Re-Offense) Rates for Registered Sex Offenders off to the right side under Directory. 

If anyone sees any missing information or links that should be included on the new page please send me an email and I will add the missing details to the page. 

Thank you for following this blog. 

Mary Devoy