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Saturday, December 5, 2015

VA-DOC: What is the Recidivism Rate for Virginia’s RSO’s? What About for SVP’s? How Much Do RSO’s Pay for Polygraphs, How Often are They Mandated to Take Them and Does VA-DOC Require ANY Other Offenders to Submit to Polygraphs? What About GPS, How Much Do Virginia RSO’s Have to Pay?


On November 16, 2015 I submitted a FOIA request to the Virginia Department of Corrections and on December 4, 2015 I received their response. 

My submission was triggered after I reviewed and compared five years of the VA-DOC’s report “Continuing a Balanced Approach to Public Safety through the Healing Environment”. There were tally’s that I expected to be included in this report that weren’t and there were tallies that used to be reported back in 2011 that had not been documented for years. 

Virginia’s Recidivism Rate for former Offenders is tracked and published by the VA-DOC every year in 2012 it was 26.1% and in 2015 it was 22.8% within 3 years of release. 

The biggest question I had out of my 15 inquiries (see below) was what is the recidivism rate for Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) in Virginia?  In 2011 it was 22% of which 3.7% was a new sexual-offense and in 2012 it was 17.5% of which 2.14% was a new sexual-offense and then the VA-DOC stopped publishing this information in their annual report. Why? 

The second set of numbers that I really wanted to know was out of the total number (which the VA-DOC does track) of Sexually Violent Predators (SVP’s) who were conditionally released from Civil Commitment (Virginia Center Behavioral Rehabilitation -VCBR) how many violated the terms of their release (Probation)? 

And the third set of numbers/data that I really wanted to know was about the cost and regularity of “treatment” sessions and polygraphs. I have heard from many RSO’s over the last 8 years who have been required to pay excessive amounts for court-mandated treatment sessions, PPG tests, GPS Monitoring and Polygraphs. This is all on top of court costs, court fines, Probation fees (including drug-testing) and Victim Restitution while attempting to maintain employment as an RSO because your employer is posted on the VSP Registry. And I have also heard from RSO’s who were “violated” by their VA-DOC Probation Officer after they failed a polygraph, so I really wanted to know the VA-DOC Polygraph process and penalties.
 


While I did receive quite a few documents attached to my email (which can't be attached to this post, but I can email them to anyone who wants them)response from the VA-DOC in response to my 15 inquires, the majority of my requests were denied under the claim “the requested data does not exist”. 

My FOIA submission: 

1.  The Total Number of “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision that absconded.
  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015
VA-DOC’s Response:  The Department does not maintain an existing report that contains this data therefore the requested record does not exist.
 

 2.  What is the Recidivism Rate of “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision? 

The total percentage of re-offense, the total number of new offenses, the number of registry offenses and the percentage and number of those that were new sexual offenses (like in Continuing a Balanced Approach to Public Safety through the Healing Environment 2011 and 2012).

  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015  

VA-DOC’s Response:  The Department does not maintain an existing report that contains recidivism rates for this population with the particular variables and time periods you identify; therefore the requested record does not exist.   However, the Department does maintain a report entitled, Mental Health and Recidivism:  A Comparison of the FY 2009, FY 2010, and FY2011 SR Release Cohorts that contains some information on recidivism rates for offenders whose most serious offense includes a sex crime. You can access the report on the Department’s website at http://vadoc.virginia.gov/about/facts/research/mental-health-and-recidivism-2015.pdf
 

Mary Devoy: There is a chart at the above link (dated September 2015) that compares mentally-ill (impaired) offenders and non-mentally-ill (impaired) offenders broken into 10 categories called Most Serious Offenses (MSO), one category is Rape/Sexual Assault for a 3-year re-incarceration rate. 

                For Rape/Sexual Assault: 

                Release Year FY2009:
·         24.9% for mentally impaired
·         18.2% for not mentally impaired 

Of the 10 (MSO) categories in 2009 from the “not mentally impaired” Offenders Rape/Sexual Assault was the second lowest re-offense group.
 

                Release Year FY2010:
·         18.5% for mentally impaired
·         17.8% for not mentally impaired 

Of the 10 (MSO) categories in 2010 from the “not mentally impaired” Offenders Rape/Sexual Assault was the third lowest re-offense group. 

                Release Year FY2011:
·         26.9% for mentally impaired
·         16.2% for not mentally impaired 

Of the 10 (MSO) categories in 2010 from the “not mentally impaired” Offenders Rape/Sexual Assault was the fifth lowest re-offense group. 

So Rape and Sexual Assault are bucketed together, if they were separated each rate  would probably be the two lowest of the entire group. But what about ALL the other crimes that require registration as a Sex Offender in Virginia 

Mary Devoy: Why doesn’t the VA-DOC track RSO recidivism? 

 

3.  Those “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision who are wearing a GPS Unit do they pay any fees?  

If they do if so how much are they charged (weekly, monthly or annually) individually OR how much did the Department collect all together from these fees?
  • 436 Sex Offenders with Leg Units July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • 478 Sex Offenders with Leg Units July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • 505 Sex Offenders with Leg Units July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 
VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains OP 920.7 Electronic Monitoring Program, a copy of which is attached, that provides information responsive to this request.  
 

Mary Devoy: All the links contained in OP 920.7 Electronic Monitoring Program fail to open!  

In section D of OP 920.7 Electronic Monitoring it states “offender in the GPS program must pay a fee of $100 and offenders in the HEM program must pay a fee of $50”. But it doesn’t say if that’s a one-time fee, a weekly fee, a monthly fee, a quarterly fee or an annual fee. - Mary
 

4.  How many “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision were assessed by vendors under contract with the VA-DOC?
  • July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011
  • July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012
  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015
VA-DOC’s Response: The Department does not maintain existing records that contain the overall number of assessments conducted; therefore the requested record does not exist.
 

5.  Do the Sex Offenders pay any fees to the contracted vendors to be assessed?  

If they do, do the vendors notify the Department how much they are collecting (weekly, monthly or annually) from the Offenders? 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains a copy of DOC-12-004-R, Sex Offender Assessment, Psychoeducation and Treatment Services that provides information responsive to this request. A copy of DOC-12-004-R is attached. 

Mary Devoy: I have taken the material from the DOC-12-004-R and charted some of the data, here: 

Chart #1 
*             The above prices are at the Vendors location(s), not at the purchasing agent’s location (Probation Office, Detention Center or Prison) which can be the same or more.
**        The above list is 11 of the 15 services that VA-DOC Venders are supposed to offer to Sex Offenders to be providers, most are mandatory per VA-DOC’s guidelines.
-N/A     Means that vendor does not offer those services.
 
Chart #2

*             The above prices are at the Vendors location(s), not at the purchasing agent’s location (Probation Office, Detention Center or Prison) which can be the same or more.
**        The above list is 11 of the 15 services that VA-DOC Venders are supposed to offer to Sex Offenders to be providers, most are mandatory per VA-DOC’s guidelines.
-N/A     Means that vendor does not offer those services.
 

Mary Devoy:  First a Comprehensive Assessment is mandatory per DOC-12-004-R, Sex Offender Assessment how can there be contract vendors who don’t do those? Per DOC-12-004-R, Sex Offender Assessment a Probation Officer requests an Intake Assessment I’m betting almost all of the PO’s request it, again how can there be vendors who don’t do them? Second, what is with the wide-range of costs by these vendors? In most areas of the state there aren’t options, there will be only ONE vendor. 

A Comprehensive Assessment can be $450, $500, $650, $700 or $1000!
An Intake Assessment can be $70, $90, $300, $400 or $500!
Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence can be $25, $75, $150 or $200!
An Abel Assessment can be $300 or $500. 

This is unacceptable, there should be a set-price for each procedure and if a vendor isn’t willing to do it for that tough!  

The VA-DOC needs to train and hire Sex Offender Treatment Providers as VA-DOC employees one in every District and take control of this out-of-control pricing.
 
 

6.  How many “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision were required to attend treatment by vendors under contract with the VA-DOC?
  • July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011
  • July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012
  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department does not maintain existing records that contain the overall number of probationers that were required to attend treatment by vendors under contract; therefore the requested record does not exist.
 

7.  Do the Sex Offenders pay any fees to the contracted vendors to be treated?  

If they do, do the vendors notify the Department how much they are collecting (weekly, monthly or annually) from the Offenders?
 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains a copy of DOC-12-004-R, Sex Offender Assessment, Psychoeducation and Treatment Services that provides information responsive to this request. A copy of DOC-12-004-R is attached. 

Mary Devoy: See #5 above
 

8.  Who decides how often a Sex Offender must attend treatment sessions? The Probation Officer or the Treatment Provider? 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains a copy of DOC-12-004-R, Sex Offender Assessment, Psychoeducation and Treatment Services that provides information responsive to this request. A copy of DOC-12-004-R is attached. 

Mary Devoy: See #5 above
 

9.  How many “Sex Offenders” under VA-DOC supervision were required to submit to polygraphs?
  • July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011
  • July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012
  • July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015
VA-DOC’s Response: The Department does not maintain existing records that contain the overall number of probationers that were required to attend treatment by vendors under contract; therefore the requested record does not exist.  Whether or not a probationer was required to submit to a polygraph would be information kept as part of his or her individual record of supervision.  Pursuant to Code of Virginia §2.2-3706(A)(2)(f)  records of supervision are not subject to mandatory disclosure and will not be released.
 

Mary Devoy: So it could have been 100, 1,000 or 3,000 offenders and it could have been monthly, quarterly or annually we don’t know.
 

10.  Do the Sex Offenders pay any fees to the contracted vendors to submit to the polygraph?  

If they do, do the vendors notify the Department how much they are collecting (weekly, monthly or annually) from the Offenders? 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community, a copy of which is attached, that provides information responsive to this request.   

Mary Devoy: Per OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders
F. Polygraph Testing
Based on their ability to pay, each offender will be charged a co-payment fee for polygraph services.  

j. The P&P Officer will send the offender a Sex Offender Polygraph Appointment Letter 735_F22, with the date, time, location and cost of the polygraph examination.
k. The offender will be expected to forward payment to the examiner no later than one week prior to the examination. If the examiner has not received payment, or notification of DOC’s intent to pay for the examination, the examination will be cancelled.
l. It will be the examiner’s responsibility to notify the supervising P&P Officer if payment has not been received. 

So no list of fees/co-payment is available, it depends on an offenders “ability to pay” so does that mean wealthier offenders get raked? What’s the cap for poor offenders? Mary

4. Maintenance and Monitoring Examination
a.      This examination enables the supervising P&P Officer to assess compliance with supervision and provides the therapist with information on compliance with treatment directives. This enables the supervising P&P Officer to be proactive in identifying precursors to possible relapse behavior.
b.      Scheduling and/or frequency of the Maintenance/Monitoring examinations should be determined by the treatment team.
c.       When a determination to test is made, the P&P Officer will send the offender a Sex Offender Polygraph Appointment Letter 735_F22 with the date, time, location, and cost of the polygraph examination.
d.      The offender will be expected to forward payment to the examiner no later than one week prior to the examination. If the examiner has not received payment, or notification of DOC’s intent to pay for the examination, the examination will be cancelled.
e.       It will be the examiner’s responsibility to notify the supervising P&P Officer if payment has not been received.
f.        Prior to the examination, the P&P Officer will forward to the examiner a referral using Sex Offender Polygraph Referral 735_F19. The referral form will outline the issues that need to be addressed in the examination.
g.      Deceptive polygraph results become a treatment issue and should be addressed in group by the therapist.
h.      Additionally, deceptive polygraph results should not be used in revocation hearings.
 

So no schedule of how often an offender could be required to take a polygraph test and again no list of fees/co-payment is available. 

A polygraph failure isn’t supposed to be used in a Probation revocation hearing but I have heard from RSO’s in Virginia who have been sent to jail after a polygraph failure. I remember a very specific case in Fairfax County about 3 or 4 years ago that young man was a few weeks from being relieved of VA-DOC Probation and when they revoked it, he was returned to Florida (where the conviction occurred) and sat in a jail cell for months before being allowed to return to Virginia. Mary
 

11.  Who decides how often a Sex Offender must submit to a polygraph? The Probation Officer or the Polygraph Technician? 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community, a copy of which is attached, that provides information responsive to this request.   

Mary Devoy: See #10 above
 

12.  Are ANY other Offenders under VA-DOC Probation supervision required to submit to polygraphs? 

If so, what kind/type of Offender? 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community, a copy of which is attached, that provides information responsive to this request.  

Mary Devoy: OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders only covers “Sex Offenders” so it does not answer my inquiry submitted to the VA-DOC. Their reply, should have been the requested record does not exist.
 

13.  If a Sex Offender fails a Polygraph what occurs then? The next steps, expectations, penalties, etc. 

VA-DOC’s Response: The Department maintains OP 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community, a copy of which is attached, that provides information responsive to this request.   

Mary Devoy: See #10 above
 

14.  Of the Total Number of “SVP’s” who were conditionally released and under VA-DOC supervision how many of those violated/reoffended?
  • 55 SVP’s Conditionally Released July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011
  • 78 SVP’s Conditionally Released July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012
  • 100 SVP’s Conditionally Released July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • 121 SVP’s Conditionally Released July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
  • 155 SVP’s Conditionally Released July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 
VA-DOC’s Response: The Department does not maintain an existing report that contains recidivism rates for this population with the particular variables and time periods you identify; therefore the requested record does not exist.   However, the Department does maintain a report entitled, Mental Health and Recidivism:  A Comparison of the FY 2009, FY 2010, and FY2011 SR Release Cohorts that contains some information on recidivism rates for offenders whose most serious offense includes a sex crime. You can access the report on the Department’s website at: http://vadoc.virginia.gov/about/facts/research/mental-health-and-recidivism-2015.pdf
 

Mary Devoy: Why doesn’t the VA-DOC track SVP recidivism? 
 

15.  I would like a copy of the VA-DOC Sex Offenders Supervision Practices Manual Policy 735.3 Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community.
  • Is it public information?
  • Is it online somewhere?
  • How can I obtain a copy?
VA-DOC’s Response: A copy of OP 735.3 as identified in response to request #10 - #13 above is attached. 

In summary, out of 15 inquiries 8 were flat-out denied (53.33%) and the other 7 were only partially answered. 

That’s better than my experience over the last 7 years with the Virginia State Police and last months request with the Virginia Supreme Court, but still very disappointing. 

All of the data I requested should be tracked and known by the VA-DOC, maybe one day! 

Mary Devoy