Thursday, January 1, 2015

Action Item for Virginia Bill HB1353 AKA "Robby’s Rule" Patroned by Delegate David Ramadan: Legislation that’s Utterly Counterproductive, it Will Cost Almost $2 Million.....OH AND it's Unconstitutional!

The 2015 version of Virginia Delegate David Ramadan’s proposed bill HB1353 Robby’s Rule is identical to the 2014 version HB195.  

Summary of Robby’s Rule:
Requires the Superintendent of State Police to establish and maintain a supplement to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry that would include the names of persons who have committed offenses that would require registration if the offense occurred today, but who are not otherwise required to register. Any attorney for the Commonwealth or law-enforcement officer may submit a request to the Department of State Police to include a person on the supplement to the Registry. Upon receipt of a request, the Department of State Police must confirm whether the person should be included on the supplement to the Registry. 

I was under the impression the 2015 version draft would be much different....... saving the 2014 estimated cost of  $1.69 million initially and $463,825 every year after per the 2014 fiscal impact statement . At least 18 months of investigative work and we have no idea if they’ll find 80, 800 or 8,000 convictions prior to 1994. For Virginians who have NOT reoffended in the last 20+ years OR for people who are already publicly listed on our Registry for a crime that they were convicted of from 1994 to 2014. 

Having expected a different bill/proposal for 2015 I’m wondering if Delegate Ramadan is waiting for a last minute amendment to be submitted at the House Committee hearing, in an attempt to throw my opposition to the bills specifics for a loop. A cynical possibility, but a very likely scenario that I’ve personally experienced over the last 6 Virginia General Assembly sessions I’ve been a volunteer advocate. 

So I am forced to address Robby’s Rule 2105 as submitted by Delegate Ramadan. 

Robby’s Rule is not about justice, it is not about preventing future crimes and it’s not about the public’s right to know.  

No one has “fallen through the cracks” nor is it “closing a loophole” and such claims by the patron and/or the bills name-sake are disingenuous.

Robby’s Rule IS purely vindictive and self-serving.
Robby’s Rule IS being cloaked under the guise of just making felony convictions part of public record. 

In 2007 Mr. Buswell (Robby of Robby's Rule) reported his sexual abuse by his coach to the authorities. Somewhere around 1978-1987 Mr. Buswell was sexually abused by his T-Ball coach. 

Back in 1987:
·        there was no Virginia Sex Offender Registry (it was created in 1994)
·        background checks were not done or required for coaches that prohibited crimes against children or sexual crimes for coaches 

Today there is a public Registry and background checks are done.  

Mr. Buswell’s abuser was convicted and was added to the Virginia Registry, for life.  

If Mr. Buswell had reported the crime(s) earlier in the 1980’s or even the early 1990’s his abuser would NOT have been placed on the Virginia Registry because the Registry did NOT exist. Every law must have a start date as does the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, laws can not be applied retroactively doing so denies citizens due process and violates ex post facto. 

It’s my understanding that the T-Ball coach abused another child after Robby and was convicted sometime in the mid-to-late-1980’s, again before the registry existed. So the first conviction is not posted on-line, only the 2007/2008 conviction for Robby’s abuse (the second conviction) is posted on the VSP Registry.  This is the issue for Mr. Buswell, the true intent of Robby’s Rule to go back 20+ years for extremely old convictions of Virginians who have never been convicted since then and successfully reentered society without the public stigma of Sex Offender AND for those who are already on the VSP Registry because they did re-offend and were convicted after the Registry was created. 

The 2015 version of Robby’s Rule allows the Commonwealth Attorney’s or VSP to submit a request to the courts to add these decade old convictions to be placed on the public VSP Registry. How will they chose who the demand registration from? The type of crime? The age of the victim? The length of time since the conviction? We don’t know. No process has been submitted and based on past legislation for sexual issues by leaving this door open now will most likely mean everyone will be added as a “New” Sex Offender. 

These “New” Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) would now be required to abide by the ever changing and expanding restrictions and regulations imposed upon Virginia’s RSO’s and any slip up no matter how minor or unintended carries a Felony charge.  

The “New” RSO’s would need the same monitoring as all the current RSO’s.  So how many of these “New” RSO’s who have not committed a new crime in years or even decades would now receive a certified letter to register every 90 days, would now need a VSP Compliance Officer to visit their residence twice a year and confirm their employment every time it changes, to take their photo every two years plus all the address, phone number, vehicle and email additions and subtractions over then next 20, 30 or 40 years? 

How many Virginians would now not be permitted to drop off or pick up their own children or grandchildren from daycare or school? How many would now loose a job or a career they’ve held for years because their current employer won’t want to be listed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. Without a job these Virginians will not be able to provide for themselves or their family. 

How many Virginians that would now be RSO’s will be evicted from their rental property or not be allowed to renew their lease because no landlord wants to deal with the tenants complaining about an RSO living next door. Without a home for themselves or their families many spouses and significant others of these new RSO’s will crack under the stress and leave. The support system and family dynamic for most of these Virginians will disappear as soon as this bill becomes law.  

Citizens of the Commonwealth who have not committed a new crime in decades, who have the second lowest recidivism rate of all crimes, who are living their lives, supporting and raising their families will be arbitrarily penalized by this bill. The collateral consequences trickle down to their spouses, their parents, their significant others, their roommates, their children, their employers and their landlords. 

Our Rule of Law does not apply to a select group of citizens, it applies to every citizen. 

A State Legislature can not go back decades and mandate someone be added to a list (private or public) as a Sex Offender for a conviction 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago. 

Our lawmakers know such proposals are unconstitutional and yet, they keep proposing and passing such violations into law knowing that most Virginians do not have the financial resources to take the appropriate steps to challenge their proposals if they do become law.
This proposal...... if it became law....... just might be the line in the sand for me to finally challenge our Virginia lawmakers. 

Robby’s Rule is a retroactive mandate for Virginians to register as a Sex Offender.

Robby’s Rule 2015 will deny Virginians Due Process.  

Robby’s Rule 2015 is a violation of Ex post facto.  

Robby’s Rule 2015 runs contrary to the Commonwealths stance of removing unnecessary barriers for the successful re-entry of former offenders in Virginia. 

An editorial from Iowa just a few weeks ago on illegal retroactive mandates against those the state would like to sweep up as an RSO is worth a quick read before you contact your Virginia Delegate and Senator about Robby’s Rule, Expanding sex offender registry is unworkable, December 1, 2014

Please Email or call your one Virginia Delegate and your one Virginia Senator to voteNoon Robby’s Rule HB1353! 

Mary Devoy