Thursday, November 5, 2015

Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission Upcoming 2015 Report with Recommendations to Become Law on July 1st 2016

Yesterday I attended the last meeting of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission for 2015; I missed the September 21st meeting.  

Agenda for September 21, 2015 meeting:

September 21, 2015 meeting Minutes (worth reading). 

Presentations from September 21st meeting
A quick reminder for readers: 

The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission (VCSC) is not a Legislative branch like the Virginia State Crime Commission (VSCC), members of the VCSC can be found here . The VCSC is a Judicial branch, they mainly conduct studies and gather data on sentencing guidelines in Virginia.  

Anything the VCSC recommends in their Annual Report (December) automatically becomes law the following July 1st. NO LEGISLATION is submitted, no public hearings and no debate by the Legislature and other than the VCSC Report being loaded online, these recommendations usually go by unnoticed by our citizens. 

To stop a VCSC recommendation a Delegate or a Senator must submit a bill AGAINST the VCSC recommendation and if that bill passes during session the VCSC recommendation does NOT become law. Which happened with a 2013 recommendation that PROTECT opposed . 

So the November meeting is where we learn what recommendations will be included in the December Report to become law next July. 

The Meeting Minutes are not yet posted. 

Presentations from November 4th meeting
-          #4- Aggravated Sexual Battery Victim Age 13/14 (page 33)
-          #5- Add Aggravated Sexual Battery of Child 13-17 by Parent/Grandparent (page 42)
-          #6- Indecent Liberties by Custodian (page 54)
-          #7- Indecent Liberties w/ Child Under 15 (page 64) 

All 4 proposals were approved by Commission members to be put in the December Report. 

I do not oppose any of these 4 proposals. 

-          Review Pursuant to Directive from 2014 General Assembly HB504/SB433 (page 78). 

PROTECT opposed the 2013 recommendation ,  …… 2014’s HB504/SB433 delayed the implementation for 2 year, to remove the first 2 years of data and to add two newer years of data . In my opinion it was to gain 2 more years for the  Child Protection Accountability System (see below presentation) data to be made public and to be used against judges who were up for reappointment by the Virginia Legislature and where PROTECT’s Camille Cooper gave the data to the Legislators against those  judges PROTECT feels aren’t sentencing harsh enough for Child Pornography possession and dissemination.

One of the VCSC members actually had the courage to raise this point during yesterdays meeting and I was thrilled to hear my suspicion for the last 2 years was most likely correct. 

In the end 2 more years of data proved the 2013 VCSC recommendation is just as relevant in 2015. The data doesn’t lie and good policy should be based on evidence not emotion or personal opinion.  

All but two Commission members agreed their mission is to make recommendations based on the evidence/data and they reapproved the original 2013 proposal to be included in this Decembers Report. One of the “nay” votes was Delegate Ben Cline who patroned the House bill for PROTECT, no surprise there! 

I supported the recommendation in 2013 and I support it being resubmitted in the upcoming December 2015 Report. 

When the final VCSC Report is posted online I will review it and if anything has changed I will post about it. 

If anyone opposes any of the 2015 VCSC Recommendations (once the final Report is released in early December) you can contact your State Delegate or State Senator and ask them to patron a bill at the upcoming session to prevent the recommendation from becoming law. 

Mary Devoy