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Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 27, 2015: 2nd Meeting of Virginia Governors Parole Commission – Camille Cooper of PROTECT was Especially Interested in “Sex Offenders” During the Meeting............and She Tossed in a Jeffrey Dahmer Factoid......Nice!


See Update at bottom of this post

Back on July 20, 2015 when the first Parole Commission meeting was held there was media in attendance, a press conference by Virginia Republican Lawmakers and numerous articles before and after the hearing for against its existence.

But this past Thursday August 27, 2015 when the second public meeting was held there was NO media attention and I haven’t found one article on it. 

The agenda was not available online and they ran out of paper copies very quickly so I took a photo of the copy the lady sitting next to me, it’s above. I attended having no idea what or who would be presenting. 

After Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott completed his presentation Camille Cooper of PROTECT said: 

“We hear a lot about risk assessments, risk assessments are not all created equal. With regards to the risk assessments for Sex Offenders you have one very widely used risk assessment called the Static 99 used here in Virginia mandated to determine risk, according to the New York Court of Appeals Jeffrey Dahmer scores low risk on that assessment tool, I don’t know if you knew that I’ll send you that opinion if you want to look at it, it’s a deeply flawed tool unfortunately it’s the only one they have to use, so my concern is when we are talking about low-risk, moderate-risk and high-risk that we really need to use a surgical scalpel and not come in with the artillery and start letting people out we need to be very careful because those risk assessment tool are really incredibly flawed. Our organizations position is that it is not worth the paper it is written on”.
 

She then went on to talk about the SAFE Act and geriatric release of Sex Offenders who were convicted as senior citizens for their first offense and how they shouldn’t be included which I have not bothered to transcribe for this post but I did transcribe an earlier question Ms. Cooper posed to the Commission after Mr. Hickman presented the Senate Finance Report including Virginia’s crime rate and recidivism rate since implementing truth-in-sentencing Camille Cooper of PROTECT said: 

“We have a particular interest in looking at ratios of Parole and Probation Officers for the Sex Offender population as well as Registered Sex Offenders, so I know you mentioned there was a 70 to 76 unless I misunderstood that ratio, so 1 for every 70 to 76 Parolee/Probationer ….ummm do you have that broken out anywhere or can point me in the direction of who would have that number of the Sex Offender population specifically”. 

Mr. Hickman responded to Ms. Cooper that the Department of Corrections would have that information and later in the meeting the Director of VADOC Harold Clarke told Ms. Cooper that he could get her that information. Mr. Hickman did say that “the VADOC is given the flexibility to manage their staff to allocate them to where the work load is needed, so some officers will have a lower case-load of higher-risk and some officers will have a higher load of low-risk. Don’t forget we added about 60 additional State Troopers who also serve at the same function”. 

Per the November 25, 2014 (which is filed as the January 2015) VSP Sex Offender Monitoring Report we know there were 21,342 sex offenders listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry.  

They are divided into three groups:
(1)    3,478 registrants under the purview of the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Services,
(2)    8,726 sex offenders whose registration and verifications are the responsibility of the Department of State Police, and
(3)    the remaining 9,138 registrants who are incarcerated in jails or prisons across the state. 

The report goes on to give the current VSP employee/Trooper to RSO ratio for November 2014, but the number of VADOC Probation Officers covering the 3,478 RSO’s is not given to figure out a ratio. 

Based on Ms. Cooper’s two, well really 3 “Sex Offender” inquiries/statements at Thursday’s Commission meeting I have a bad feeling she/PROTECT will be sponsoring some anti-Sex Offender bills in January at the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session. But until the bill(s) are posted in LIS in December or January we won’t know for sure. It could just be more funding for more Probation Officers and if that’s the case I wouldn’t disagree or oppose such a bill. 

But conversations like these are the reason I attend a variety of meetings throughout the entire year in Virginia so I am aware of the discussions, issues and proposals that have occurred, which leads to fewer surprises for me during the General Assembly session because I am better prepared instead of playing catch-up. 

Plus I introduce myself, this platform, current issues and proposed solutions to invited speakers, committee members and people in the audience. Giving them my card, a brochure and suggesting they visit this site. I’m educating the public one person at a time, a win-win all the way around.

 
Mary Devoy


Update: 

A reader emailed me after reviewing this post and she seemed very concerned about Camille Cooper and PROTECT's stance at the Parole Commission meeting.  

I advised this reader that for the last 8 Virginia General Assembly sessions Ms. Cooper who resides in Virginia but lobby's for PROTECT out of Tennessee has been a barrier for this platform for years. She stood in support of Robby’s Rule 2015, as I noted during this years session http://goo.gl/oFEk0T  OR these http://goo.gl/ySi6oU , http://goo.gl/YPPRfp , http://goo.gl/XhuaHF . 

Ms. Cooper is an outspoken advocate who willfully ignores most studies and statistics on Sex Offenders while promoting/referencing studies that are highly controversial, or have even debunked by well respected researchers but if the conclusion supports PROTECTS goal she pushes on. PROTECT has also flown in former celebrities and retired athletes from across the country to visit every Legislators office in the GA building to shake hands and pose for photographs, then those former celebrities and athletes have stood in Virginia Committee meetings and spoken in support of harsher legislation while telling their story of abuse from decades ago usually in another state or why they support the bill. These non-Virginian speakers are usually given 3-5 times longer to speak than citizens and the Committee members usually "star-struck" give them their full attention, but then ignore, rush along, cut-off or even argue with actual citizens of the Commonwealth.

PROTECT is well funded and well known and I get to go toe-to-toe with Ms. Cooper usually all alone. This is why I ask all of you to come to Richmond and speak against proposed legislation during the General Assembly sessions because one lone advocate for reform doesn’t make much of an impact when a national organization flies in a celebrity or athlete to tell their story of abuse in front of the television cameras for it to be replayed by most Virginia news stations that evening.