Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Action Item: A Start Date MUST be Added to Senator Tom Garrett’s SB86, Otherwise it Will be Applied Retroactively by the Virginia State Police Taking Current Non-Violent RSO’s and Retroactively Re-Classifying Them to Violent Making Them VSP Registry “Lifers” While Denying Them Due Process

SB86 is the third attempt for Senator Garrett to increase the penalty for sexual abuse (a defined term) of a child 13 or 14 years old from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. 

Back in 2015 it was SB1138 and in 2014 it was SB442  both died in the Appropriations Committee due to its high cost.  But supposedly for the upcoming 2016 session there is plenty of money available so I’m thinking this time the proposal has a very good chance at passing through the Legislature. 

Personally, I do not oppose the increase in penalty for this crime by an adult against a child I didn’t oppose it in 2014 or 2015 and I’m not going to oppose it this year. 

BUT………….there is a VERY serious problem with SB86 that needs immediate attention. 

2016’s SB86 does NOT  include an “effective date” of July 1, 2016; this means as currently written this proposal to increase the penalty for sexual abuse of a 13 or 14 year old from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony would be applied retroactive by the Virginia State Police. 

Anyone convicted of this crime since it’s inception in 2007 through until June 30 2016 who was originally classified as Non-Violent Sex Offender will be elevated to a Violent Sex Offender, without ANY due process.  

I raised this issue back in 2014 and it was ignored by the patron. 

I again raised it in 2015 and at first the patron and the Committee members tried to say my concern was unwarranted but then when I provided facts and real examples they reluctantly added a start date. 

And more recently I raised it with the Virginia Legislators and the Administration after a sit down meeting with VSP Lt. Col. Kemmler (who retired in January 2016) confirmed to me that yes, indeed if the Legislature does NOT add a start date to Legislation directed towards Registered Sex Offenders the VSP will apply it retroactively. 

And yet Senator Garrett filed the exact same verbiage for the upcoming 2016 session that he filed in 2014 and 2015 ignoring this issue all over again! 

How many Non-Violent Offenders would this retroactive mandate capture if passed into law as-is?

30 or 300? We don’t know because the FOIA I submitted weeks ago to the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission looking for the exact count since 2000 was denied because today it’s a misdemeanor and the VCSC doesn’t track misdemeanors. 

These newly categorized Violent Sex Offenders would now become “Lifers” on the Virginia VSP Registry, requiring Virginia State Police (VSP) monitoring and management until the day they die, it would also increase the Offenders re-registrations from once a year to 4 times a year letters, postage and data updates that are NOT being captured.  

Back in 2006 and 2008 the Virginia Legislature took sexual misdemeanors and turned them into felonies, they did NOT add a start date to that legislation so the Virginia State Police took Non-Violent Registered Sex Offenders and retroactively changed them to Violent RSO’s. 

In 2006 the number of RSO’s affected was 1,492, the 2008 number is unknown as the VSP has denied every FOIA request I’ve ever submitted asking for this information. 

Without a start date SB86 will wrongfully and retroactively (a violation of ex post facto) increase the classification of current Non-Violent RSO’s who were convicted years ago.  

Everyone involved in the Virginia Legislative process and the implementation of Virginia law knows this, but here we are for the third year in a row needing to amend Senator Garrett’s proposal. 

Plus, the cost of making these Non-Violent RSO’s into “lifers” will be borne by the Virginia State Police NOT VA-DOC beds, so where is that cost being captured, debated and approved? It’s NOT! 

Please email or call Senator Garrett District22@senate.virginia.gov  or 804-698-7522 TODAY asking him to amend this bill. 

Then Email or call your Virginia Senator and ask them to request a start date of July 1, 2016 be added to SB86 if they don’t current Non-Violent RSO’s will be wrongfully swept up. 

Thank you! 

Mary Devoy