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Friday, December 18, 2015

Action Item: Support Virginia Bill SB11 To Remove the Employer Information of RSO’s From the VSP Online Registry a Current (and Significant) Barrier for a Successful Re-entry Back Into Society


Update: 

Howell Bill Aims to Remove Employer Name, Address from Sex Offender Registry, December 28, 2015
 

Original Post:

At the moment we have one “good” bill for the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session! 

SB11 - To Remove the Employer Information of RSO’s From Being Posted on the VSP Registry 

You Can Read the Full Bill Text or Track it’s Bill Status on Virginia General Assembly Website: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+sum+SB11 

OR 

You Can Track the Bill Status, Cast Your Vote or Read/Leave Public Comment on Richmond Sunlight Website: https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2016/sb11/ 

Now before everyone gets too excited you need to know……this is NOT the first time this proposal has been made.
  1. In 2010 it was SB635  which passed the Virginia Senate Committee and then the Full-Chamber 40-0 but was then “killed” by the House Militia, Police and Safety Sub-Committee of 6.
  2. Then in 2012 it was HB413  which made it onto a hearing docket for the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-committee where the 8 members “Laid it on the table” instead of casting an official vote, to “kill” it.
I have looked for the specific piece of legislation (bill) somewhere between 2006 and 2008 (before I was an advocate) that placed/added the employer information online in Virginia; I can NOT find it anywhere which leads me to believe the VSP did it on their own with no direction from the Virginia Legislature. I have previously asked VSP Leadership about the change that occurred and I was NOT given any answer on how it was specifically implemented. 

As of December 2015:
  • 29 States do not list any employer information publicly; five of those States are Federal Adam Walsh Act AWA/SORNA compliant
  • 10 States publicly post just the address; eight of those are AWA/SORNA compliant
  • 5 States post the city, county and/or zip code; three of those are AWA/SORNA compliant
Why does this matter? 
Because possibly being Federal AWA/SORNA compliant (one day) has been one of the previous arguments made against this proposal by both the Virginia State Police (VSP) Legislative Liaisons and by some House Courts of Justice Committee members. This claim is FALSE!
 


The Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA guidelines mandate the employers address be listed on-line but not the company name. But per the below list 17 States that the SMART Office has certified as AWA/SORNA compliant 8 of those do NOT publicly list the employer address. So Federal Certification is possible without the employer’s address being publicly posted. 

In September 2013 Texas and in 2012 Kansas both removed ALL employment information from their public registries.  

Why? Because those 44 States & Congress recognize employment as a top priority in an ex-offender's successful reentry back into our communities. Without employment the rules of probation would be broken, court fines and restitution would not be paid and stable housing would be impossible. 

A homeless RSO is an untraceable RSO, & that makes registration irrelevant. 

What Stays the Same IF SB11 Passes?
  1. RSO’s would still register ALL their employer information with the Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer).
  2. The Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer) would still confirm that their place of employment does not violate any State Law AND they would still confirm that the RSO does actually work there. 
By publicly posting this information the Commonwealth is currently penalizing Virginia Businesses that are willing to hire citizens who have paid their court-ordered debt to society. Most employers knowing their company would be listed on the VSP Registry don’t hire qualified candidates because they don’t want to be bothered with the criticism, shame, intimidation, harassment and sometimes threats by customers, clients, neighboring businesses and by those who specifically want an RSO to fail out of vengeance and hate as noted in September 7th Post. 

Please Email or call your one Virginia Delegate AND your one Virginia Senator and ask them to voteYeson SB11! Share your previous experiences with applying for, maintaining and losing employment because of the public posting of your employer's information on the VSP Registry. 

It’s Time for Virginia’s Legislature to right this wrong that the VSP did years ago without any oversight which has not only harmed Former-Offenders and their families but Virginia Businesses. 

Mary Davye Devoy