Monday, July 7, 2014

Steve Yoder: Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground?

Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground?
By Steve Yoder  July 7, 2014

Early last year, Los Angeles set aside a sliver of land in its Harbor Gateway neighborhood for the city’s newest and smallest park: two jungle gyms on a fifth of an acre. 

The project was more than just an effort to increase the city’s green space. City Council members made clear that one of the park’s principal reasons for existence was to force 33 people on the California sex offender registry who were living in a nearby apartment building to move out. State law bars those on its registry from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school. 

 “We came together, working with the police department, to problem-solve, to send a message that Harbor Gateway cannot be dumped upon with a high number of registered sex offenders,” councilman Joe Buscaino said at the park’s opening. 

But the state ban itself already clusters registrants into a limited number of areas, according to a September 2011 report by the California Sex Offender Management Board, which was created by the state legislature to advise it on sex offender policies. 

California hasn’t been alone in its tough approach to ensuring that formerly incarcerated sex offenders pose no danger after they are released. As part of a wave of new sex offender laws starting in the mid-1990s, about 30 states and thousands of cities and towns passed such residency restrictions—prompting in turn a pushback from civil liberties advocates, state legislators and registrants themselves who argued the restrictions were not only unduly harsh but counterproductive. 

But a court decision in Colorado last year could mark a shift in momentum.

Action Alert: 8 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!

Back on April 18th I asked you all to look over the Top 7 Goals I have been asking the Virginia Legislators to sponsor over the last 6 General Assembly sessions and pick one or two that you believe in and to then ask your District’s Delegate and Senator to sponsor for the 2015 Virginia General Assembly (begins January 14th) because most Legislators decide on all their bills by September in a non-election year like 2014. In an election year they usually wait till late November or even mid-December to make their final decisions/selections on bills for the upcoming January. 

Last week I made more than 25 separate requests for 2015 sponsors, now I wait for their answers. 

Today, I am asking all of you once again (if you have not already done so) to contact your one Delegate and one Senator before the end of July. 

This way they hear their constituents asking for these reasonable changes and asking them to step up and patron/sponsor one “good” bill for the next session.

        Side Note:
Since the April action item post, two Delegates and one Senator have retired/resigned in June and then on July 1st another Senator retired/resigned. This mean there will be one or two Special Elections for 4 District’s in the Commonwealth to fill these vacated seats.

       They are:
1.       Senator Phillip Puckett          -D           of the 38th District
2.      Delegate Algie Howell           -D           of the 90th District
3.      Delegate Robert Brink           -D          of the 48th District
4.      Senator Henry Marsh             -D           of the 16th District 

If you live in one of these districts then you need to wait until the Special Elections occur to know who is representing your district. Then you can contact the newly elected Legislator, introduce your self and make a request for 2015.

The candidates for the upcoming Special Elections in these 4 Districts’ are not finalized (as of today). Once they are I will post about the candidates. 

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

Both 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 fewer opportunities for constituents and advocates during a short session. 

I’ve selected one additional goal from the full list, for this post. #8 in this post is in response to the Manassas, Virginia case of the 17 year old boy who “sexted” with his girlfriend and was forced by the state to submit to official photos of his genitalia. Goal #8 is not specific to him being forced to be photographed but to separate Teen Sexting from Child Pornography. 

From the 8 goals below, please 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).