Kentucky and Virginia
are two of the only states that automatically revoke voter and gun rights for
life for those convicted of a felony.
States allow former –felons to vote or own firearms after a specifictime-frame has passed, not forcing them to
apply for that right and possibly be denied like Kentucky and Virginia.
last few years the restoration of rights process in Virginia has become more streamlined and a
large number of felons have had their rights restored that is undisputed.
number of former-offenders with sexual convictions who have applied and been
denied is high from what I’ve heard from RSO’s who have contacted me. over the years
been legislation proposed at the last few Virginia General Assembly sessions to
make the restoration automatic and those proposals have failed. I have
monitored them each session looking to see if Virginia RSO’s were being
excluded and if that did happen I planned to oppose such a proposal.
latest rights-restoration proposal does just that, it excludes those who have
been convicted of a sex crime.
Small Business Loans, HUD Housing, SNAP Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits (federal
prohibitions) and Medicare coverage for Viagra (Virginia prohibition) RSO’s are being
excluded for automatic voting right restoration.
editorial has been written in response to Kentucky’s new prejudicial exclusion.
Is Virginia next?
Opinion: Many 'sex offenders'
November 30, 2015
Beshear’s recent decision to restore voting rights to
many felons is an encouraging step toward criminal justice reform. The governor
listed a litany of reasons why ‘it makes no sense" to deny opportunities
to those seeking to rebuild their lives after serving out their sentences. He
cited a key study that those whose rights are restored are less likely to
commit another crime.
this signifies a significant policy shift, I am disappointed that the
governor’s executive order did not go far enough. He excluded among others,
those who commit a "sex-related offense." While this might be
overwhelmingly applauded by most, the facts and studies do not support the
belief that those convicted of sex offenses are more likely to commit another
offense, or that such a population is more dangerous and incurable.
I do not
seek to diminish the pain of those who have endured sexual abuse, as their
suffering certainly requires suitable punishment for those who have inflicted
such harm. It is true there is a small segment whose risk level is so high as
to require restrictive oversight to protect the public and children.
Fortunately, we have testing methodologies today that can more accurately
assess one’s risk level and predict level of dangerousness. But these
more serious offenders, while often in the spotlight of media coverage, are
more the exception rather than the rule.
the question posed to the audience of mostly college students by Galen
Baughman, a Soros Justice Fellow and the final speaker at the City University of New York TEDx talks
at the Borough of Manhattan Community College last week.
talks are known for introducing new speakers with new ideas on everything from
tech, to teaching, to society. But Baughman was the first TEDx presenter to
address the issue of sex offenders from an unusual viewpoint:
one. And he must register as a sex offender forever.
after an 11-month study by a 29-member group, Virginia’s Justices rejected any reform to
our system with a 2-sentence order.
today’s article below. It sounds as though the VSP and our Commonwealth’s
Attorneys opposition to changing our current system were taken with the most
weight in this decision instead of justice being served.
An “open file”
policy should not be on a county-by-county or a city-by-city basis, every
court in Virginia
should allow the same opportunities to their defendants. I can say with 100%
certainty, Hanover County VA does NOT have an “open file” policy and that
allows them to stack-charges and then offer a plea deal with a 5-minute
timeframe to take-it or leave-it and if it's no jail-time most folks who don't have thousands of dollars at their disposal to pay for a competent defense team, will take it even when you have no idea what the evidence against them is. Prosecutor -1 , Defendant (and justice being served) -0.
to all my readers who took the time to send in comments to the VA Supreme Court
as directed in the May 27th Action Item.
Justices reject recommendations on
pretrial discovery in criminal cases, November 27, 2015
this month, without comment or explanation, the Virginia Supreme Court declined
to adopt changes recommended by a committee of judges, prosecutors, defense
lawyers and others after an 11-month study of pretrial disclosure rules in
proposals by the Special Committee on Criminal Discovery Rules were aimed at
improving pretrial discovery to help make sure pleas are knowingly entered,
that trial preparation is not a matter of guesswork and to prevent “trial by
ambush” while protecting the privacy and safety of victims and witnesses.
two-sentence order from the justices left committee members contacted last week
surprised and puzzled. Some were relieved and some, principally defense
lawyers, were upset over the outcome and the lack of information about the
Back on July
9, 2015 I posted about the Virginia State Police (VSP)
website, VSP Barracks hours of operation, VSP S.O. Helpline hours of operation
and VSP observed holidays.
2 sets of 4 day stretches where
Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia are
unable to register, re-register or change any information even though Virginia law states information changes
must be done within 3 days (not 3 business days) or 30 minutes:
Lee-Jackson Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day(Friday Preceding the 3rd Monday in January and the 3rd Monday in
Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday (4th Thursday and Friday in November)
#2 is this week!
have any changes that include residence, mailing address, employment, unemployment,
vehicle registration, phone numbers, school enrollment, un-enrollment, email
addresses or online identifiers OR your
re-registration letter and/or photograph has a due date of 11/26, 11/27, 11/28
or 11/29(yes certified letters have due
dates that include holidays and weekends) there will be no option for you to
meet the requirement in Virginia law or your stated due-date deadline because of
the 2 upcoming VSP observed holidays and then the weekend.
to double check the due date on your certified letter and if it’s the 26th-29th
get to a VSP Barracks today or if your re-registration letter has no changes
and doesn’t require a photograph get to a U.S. Post Office and mail it back
don’t you could be facing a criminal investigation, a Class 6 Felony, attorney’s
fees, bail costs, incarceration, probation, court fines/fees, GPS monitoring
and your re-registration being increased to every 30-days even if the original
conviction that put you on the VSP Registry was a misdemeanor or 15+ years ago.
Not to mention loss of employment, housing or family during the entire process.
burden to jump through the unknown and not-published hoops, hurdles and barriers
of compliance falls on your shoulders and that’s why I will try to post about
these two 4-Day stretches each year as a reminder to assist you.
a few email’s back and fourth with Rebecca Beitsch she says the chart was
supposed to distinguish between states that mandate registration for ALL juveniles (online) and states that allow some juveniles not to
register but others must register. Having the word "online" for the mandated category
and not the “some” juvenile category (like Virginia) is where the disconnect has occurred.
It makes it look like Virginia
does NOT put juveniles online when they in fact DO, we just don’t mandate ALL
juveniles to register.
Beitsch a revised chart is expected, it should be posted at the below Pew link.
moment the above map has an error with Virginia,
it should be orange.
already contacted Rebecca Beitsch alerting her of this issue and sharing my
50-State spreadsheet of private v. public registries for juveniles.
all the outlets that have published this map will get a revised one soon.
a great piece worth reading.
States Slowly Scale Back Juvenile
Sex Offender Registries, November 19, 2015
shows a child convicted of a sex crime, or an “adjudicated delinquent” in juvenile
court, is not likely to commit another sex offense.
read onyour Facebook page
you have a VA Senator to sponsor Erin's
Law at the upcoming 2016 session.
support sexual abuse prevention education for the children of Virginia. But I do oppose the naming of
legislation after a victim; it creates an emotional and biased environment.
two requests to make for your bill in VA.
1- In Virginia the Age of Consent is on a sliding
scale depending on the specific sex act and sometimes there is an age gap
allowance and sometimes there isn't. Virginia
teens have no idea that consensual sexual contact with other teens is a criminal
act because no one teaches about the age of consent. We have 15, 16, 17,
18 and 19 year olds who were in age appropriate relationships and they never
forced, threatened or intimated anyone who have been sentenced to incarceration
and then lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender. Their lives are over
when this occurs, they will never get a college education, they will never have
more than just a job, churches turn their back on them, they can't volunteer
and finding a spouse to start a family is near-impossible. Age
appropriate relationships should not result in a public label of Sexual
Predator, but in Virginia
it does. Virginia's
landmine of sexual statutes and rules needs to be taught to our teenagers so
they can avoid the dire future that our Legislature has created. Could Erin's
Law include education on Virginia’s
Age of Consent and what age gaps or acts would be criminal, even if consensual?
2- In Virginia we have had way too
many case of Teen-to-Teen Sexting that have lead to criminal charges, threats
of incarceration and the possibility of lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender because
it falls into the Child Pornography production, possession and distribution
category. You can read about some of the VA cases here http://goo.gl/VqSrnH . Virginia's teenagers per
the chart in the link I've provided starting at 10 years of age, need to be
taught that Sexting=Child Pornography with dire consequences. Could Erin's Law include education on Sexting
being a criminal offense?
If we are
going to educate Virginia’s
children on sexual abuse against them by others we need to include what our
laws consider sexual abuse by them even when no force, threat or intimation was
I do hope
these 2 suggestions will become goals for your legislation not just in VA this
January but for all 49 States because our teens need someone to teach them
about these serious issues.
A volunteer advocate for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender
Registry and Laws since October 2008
read through the 5 years of reports and found some interesting comparisons when
I created the above chart.
2013 the VA-DOC stopped tracking/publicizing the recidivism rate of “Sex
Offenders” and the number of absconder
“Sex Offenders” . But they started counting the number of GPS units on “Sex
the VCBR (SVP Civil Commitment Facility) was reaching capacity and
double-bunking had to be implemented because no Legislator wanted to build a second
facility ($$$$$$$) it looks like the “release-rate” of SVP’s went up significantly.
interesting drop is the number of VA-DOC contracts/vendors for Sex Offender
veracity of one of this year’s most talked about documentaries, “The Hunting
Ground,” has been attacked by 19 Harvard Law School professors, who say the
film’s portrayal of rape on college campus is distorted, specifically when it
comes to their school’s handling of one particular case.
Now I am not saying this 65 year old Chesapeake
RSO wasn’t up to something maybe he was…. but based on the 4 below news articles he didn’t approach anyone,
he didn't speak to any students, he wasn’t looking into the school windows, he
didn’t attempt to enter the school, he wasn't looking into vehicles and he
wasn’t taking photographs.
seen “near” HickoryHigh School
and someone decided he was “suspicious”
and called the police.
police arrived “they met a man along the
side of the road in front of the school”.
are a male living in the United
States above the age of 12, raise your hand
if you have never looked at, possessed or shared a picture of a naked female
(or male). If you have, you may be a felon subject to imprisonment and be
required to register as a sex offender. A small town in Colorado (and others elsewhere) are
"scandalized" that a group of students have voluntarily exchanged
nude pictures of themselves, and prosecutors are discussing the possibility
that some may be charged as felons! Yes, posting nude pictures of yourself may
be stupid and the pictures can be used or abused in the future, but we cannot
allow looking at them, sharing them or possessing them by students to be a
they were coerced or are used to bully or extort or a thousand other possible
scenarios, it may constitute a crime, but not the innocent conduct so far
described. In addition to the threat of long prison sentences and registering
as sex offenders, the local football game has been cancelled, and parents are
outraged that the school has not done more to stop the practice of
"sexting"! Yes, why aren't those schools monitoring the cellphones
that our children are using? If the schools aren't watching and controlling
what our kids are doing on their cellphones, who else is going to do it?
differences between today and yesterday are technology and a totally different
attitude toward sex. The single faded, black-and-white photo that teenagers
huddled around has been replaced by a thousand copies in color made and
distributed by cellphones, and nudity no longer provokes gasps. As a parent, I
can certainly understand being upset by having your child voluntarily publicize
his or her own nude photo. It could be described as foolish and may turn out to
be embarrassing, but looking at it, sharing it or possessing it is neither a
scandal nor a crime. We allow our children to watch hours of murders,
stabbings, shootings, fighting and endless violence on TV or video games, but
for some strange reason nudity is the line in the sand. Let's not criminalize
teenagers for being teenagers, and let's not impose parenting responsibilities
school sweethearts were 16 when they traded nude cellphone pictures. There was
no evidence of coercion or harassment. But under a literal interpretation of North Carolina law, each
had distributed child pornography.
February, prosecutors in Fayetteville
charged the two teenagers with the felony of “exploiting a minor,” which could
have brought them years in prison and decades on the sex offender registry —
for privately sharing images of themselves.