Monday, February 22, 2016

HB628 Passed out of Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee 7 to 5 AND Delegate Rob Bell Confirmed it’s a CYA for the Virginia State Police Adding Employer Information Online Years Ago Without the Approval of the Legislature

Legislative notebook: No-wake bill, fantasy sports, worker's comp and sex offenders, February 24, 2016

Dear Virginia Senators,  

Today HB628– Rob Bell -Reiterating the Employer Address AND Adding College Name to be Publically Listed on the VSP Registry, passed out the Senate Courts of Justice Committee 7 to 5. 

There are 4 important factors affecting recidivism for Former-Offenders released back into our communities. They are Education, Housing, Employment and Family support, HB628 targets two of these. 

  • Virginia is one of ONLY 6 States that posts ALL Employer information of Registrants on online TODAY!
  • 29 States do not post any employer information online; five of those States are Federal Adam Walsh Act /SORNA compliant
  • 10 States post just the address; eight of those are SORNA compliant
  • 5 States post the city, county and/or zip code; three of those are SORNA compliant
Just a few years ago Texas and Kansas removed ALL employer information from public view, the Texas advocacy group actually used Virginia’s 2010 failed bill (SB635) as their foundation.  

Policies like HB628 guarantee a revolving door of low pay, public sector work. This contradicts the claim the public Registry is simply administrative, not punitive AND it makes stability and traceability increasingly difficult for the RSO which is creating a greater likelihood of recidivism. 

The more you push the RSO’s to the fringes of society with your mandates, restrictions and regulations, the more you play a part in them possibly committing a new crime and creating a new victim either to survive or because they have nothing left to lose. 

Back in 2009, Florida experienced a sharp increase in sexual assaults among the general populace (NOT by those on the Registry) they determined that the recent increase in unemployment lowered the self-esteem of those predisposed to this type of crime. Unemployment leads to a higher rate of crime.   

Admittance to a Virginia College is already a huge challenge for anyone with a felony and it is 10 times more difficult for those who are listed on the State Police Registry, most are denied for that one reason. If HB628 becomes law and a Registrant’s College is listed online those few Institutions that have allowed Registrants to obtain an education to provide for their families will now STOP admitting them all together. 

Senator Stuart in today’s Committee hearing said that some High School students take college courses and that their safety depends on knowing who is an RSO on campus "they are a pretty vulnerable group" . A college campus is an adult environment it is NOT intended to provide services to juveniles. College campuses have easy access to alcohol and drugs but no one with those convictions are listed online for parents, students or staff to look up.  

You don’t know who the Registered Sex Offender is at the bowling alley, at the golf course, at the tennis courts, on the hiking trail, at the amusement park, in the museum, in the movie theater, on the ski slopes, at the camp ground or at the lake/beach. How is a classroom setting with a teacher more dangerous? 

During today’s Senate Committee hearing Delegate Bell told the Committee that the Virginia State Police added the address years ago under the authority of the Code and the reason he has that portion in HB628 was to give the VSP the ability to list it under the authority of the Legislature. What about all the other pieces of data the VSP has posted online under the claim the public has the right to know or that they’ve removed because it assisted an RSO in staying compliant over the last 10 years without the OK of the Virginia Legislature? 

There is NO evidence that if the public knows where an RSO works or goes to school they are safer, that future crimes are stopped. But there is plenty of research that has concluded listing an RSO’s employment and enrollment online leads to the public feeling less safe and a long-life of job losses and no education for the RSO. 

Bills like HB628 don’t just affect the RSO who is listed on the VSP Registry but they affect their spouses, significant-others and children, but you never think about them. Sometimes it seems like the Virginia Legislature does it’s darndest to make sure that our RSO’s don’t have anyone to love them or support them. It seems like alone and homeless or in jail is your true preference for them since you aren’t allowed to legally banish them. 

HB628 chooses to ignore ALL the evidence and research and instead is pushing harder to limit reentry opportunities and to control, suppress and manage our RSO’s while claiming it makes us safer, but there is no research supporting that claim. 

HB628 has a long list of real consequences while the “benefits” that some Virginia Legislators continue to claim 8 years since I started advocating were and still are unsubstantiated. 

When is Virginia finally going to consider legislation that is based on facts instead of myth and fear-mongering? 

Vote ‘No” on HB628.


Mary Devoy