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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Restoring Integrity to Virginia Registry Goal #2 (Dissemination of Information) of 28 is Being Shelved But NOT Forgotten!


For the last 7 years my main goal has been to hold back the tide of new, harsher legislation based on myth, hate, fear and prejudice from becoming law in Virginia. Some years I’m successful and some years I haven’t been. 

My secondary goal is to keep all RSO’s and their loved ones up to date on what legal restrictions and regulations they must abide by that change every year so you/they do not inadvertently commit a felony offense. 

And my third goal has been to correct existing issues within the current system and environment as listed on the Legislative Goals/ Action Items page, for a total of 28 Goals. 

Today I updated Goal #2 on that page, Written notice of all Legal Restrictions /Regulations that all Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) must abide by in Virginia. As the Commonwealth makes no effort  to advise Registered Sex Offenders (RSO's) of their legal restrictions and regulations that change yearly when new retroactive laws are passed and if the RSO "guesses" incorrectly they face up to 5 years in prison. An extremely high cost paid for by Virginians for an arbitrary felony. 

If a law (that originally required a fiscal impact) is important enough for the Virginia Legislature to pass, is it NOT equally important to inform those citizens it is intended to manage? 

….AND the restrictions imposed upon RSO’s are NOT intuitive or even reasonable sometimes so how are you supposed to know a regular activity that was legal last year or piece of information that was not required to be registered last year….Is NOW restricted or required and any violation is a new Felony!

States like North Carolina, Illinois & Indiana advise their RSO’s of their legal obligations at every re-registration and Illinois & Kentucky notify their RSO's of new changes in law after their Legislature and Governor have passed them. 

All Virginia and all Federal laws should be available in easily understandable terms to our RSO’s, not just a 44 page legal mumbo-jumbo list of statutes , that the majority of folks can not understand and if they don’t have Internet access they don’t know they even exist!
 
At the 2015 General Assembly session this past January and February  the Virginia State Police (VSP) convinced Senator Dave Marsden if they were to ever create and distribute a list of Do’s and Don’ts that RSO’s shouldn’t be able to claim they never received it or it was outdated as a defense for a failure to register. This demand by the VSP confirmed for me that they never planned to actually distribute the laws to every RSO OR to maintain and distribute updated versions when the laws change retroactively every year. The VSP even drafted up two versions of a brochure in an attempt to convince Virginia lawmakers they were ready to disseminate the laws to Virginia’s RSO’s, the 2nd  version (that was extremely similar to my brochure ) was presented to the GA members.
 

I can email PDF’s of both VSP drafts to anyone who interested as PDF’s can not be loaded onto a blog. 

The proposed bill for an RSO not to claim they never received a VSP brochure or were given out-dated information if they faced a charge of failure to register due to an unknown restriction was SB1374 . I had action items to oppose it on January 20, 2015 , February 1, 2015 , February 2, 2015 , February 14, 2015 and February 17, 2015 and in the 2nd chamber it failed. 

I do not hold any ill-will against Senator Marsden for patroning SB1374, he wants our RSO’s to receive notification of their restrictions and he thought SB1374 would get us to that goal line. Please do not, send him any negative email’s or voice mails, he had good intentions. 

If the only way to get the VSP to disseminate the restrictions and regulations to our RSO’s is for them to wash their hands of any responsibility or liability, then I will no longer be lobbying for this goal. But I will NOT be removing the goal from my list because EVERYONE needs to know how the VSP has fought against past bills (2009 HB2225, 2010 HB1328 , 2011 HB2382, 2012 SB420 and 2014 SB553). 

First the VSP claimed they already do it (at the 2009 GA), then claiming by giving our RSO’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts that would be “giving legal advise” (at the 2010 GA), which they aren’t allowed to do, then the VSP claimed  they could do it administratively (2011 GA) that no legislation was necessary and now this year insisting a law to prevent an RSO for pointing out they never received a list of their legal obligations or that it was out-dated is needed BEFORE the VSP ever starts dispersing such a brochure. But wait......their Legislative Liaison back in 2009 told the Virginia Legislature the VSP already disseminates the laws to our RSO’s. 

7 years of battling the VSP just to have them give a list of rules to our RSO’s, other states do it , I do it, why can’t the VSP who has the responsibility to manage and monitor the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and its RSO’s do it? 

As of June 9th 2015 the VSP STILL does NOT disseminate the legal guidelines to Virginia RSO’s that don’t apply to ANY other Virginian! 

Mary Davye Devoy