Friday, February 12, 2016

Mary Davye Devoy: Why Do I Advocate?

This 2016 Virginia G.A. session is my 8th session standing up in opposition of “feel good laws” and advocating for data-driven reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and our criminal sex statutes. 

Editorial by Mary Davye Devoy
Has Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry Kept Us Safe? July 5, 2015
A program that claimed it would better protect society has been in place for 20 years. We owe it to our citizens to see whether it has done what was promised, is cost effective, whether justice is being served or reforms are needed.

Editorial by Mary Davye Devoy
Campbell: Sex offender bill would stir up angry mobs, February 15, 2015:

Roanoke Times Point & Counterpoint Editorial: Does the VA Sex Offender Registry Need Reform?
Part 1- March 31, 2013:
Point: Raising fear, to no effect, Mary Devoy
Counterpoint: Why sex offender registries work, Senator Bill Stanley
Part 2- April 7, 2013:
Rebuttal: Don’t believe every scary statistic, Mary Devoy
Rebuttal: Sex crimes are among the most heinous, Senator Bill Stanley 

Va. Lobbyist Works Tirelessly to Soften Sex Crime Laws, March 27, 2012:
Sex Offender Registry: The Result of Legislative Predator Hysteria, December 5, 2010:

Next Wednesday is the day after Cross-Over Day, the day that all Virginia House Bills have either made it through the House and will now be heard in the Senate and all Senate Bills have survived a vote in the Senate and will be heard in the House. 

And yet I still get half-way through session and I find myself asking...... why the hell am I doing this?  

This year I’ve been publically chastised by Senator Obenshain in a room of over 125 people (on my birthday) for a policy he claimed existed but yet is not posted online, on the Committee room or spoken before a meeting begins.  

Then on January 27th in the Virginia Senate Transportation Committee freshman Senator Amanda Chase made an open inquiry to the entire room if I was a mother or not. I had to answer by telling everyone in attendance that for close to 20 years we attempted to have children to only learn it was impossible. Then Senator Chase claimed to the room that as a mother, the protection of children matters to her, as if it does not matter to me. In other words anyone who is childless shouldn’t ever wage opposition or an opinion on any issues dealing with children. I was stunned by this cheap-tactic to silence and shame me but then freshman Senator Sutterlein piled on to her comment to further shame me I came to realize that that facts no longer matter in the Virginia Legislature. Fear-mongering and public-shaming has taken precedence; the voice of reason has been extinguished.

And then on my wedding anniversary I waited around for hours to oppose a Bill that was later postponed.  

The only time of year when my house is full of stress, emotion, over eating, short-fuses, heartburn, insomnia, snippy attitudes and let’s face it too much alcohol being imbibed its January through March, Virginia General Assembly. The rest of the year we are a happy, well-rounded and somewhat-healthy household.  

Every year my husband gives up at least one week of vacation (sometimes more) to help me cover the House and Senate Hearings because I can not be in two places at once.  

Why am I still advocating?  

Why do I make myself a target for criticism? 

Why do I care when it appears no one else does? The Rutherford Institute doesn’t. The Virginia ACLU doesn’t. 

I ask myself these questions after every session and I come close to giving up almost every year, last year was the closest I came with the loss of my mother and my husband’s mother both within two weeks of each other right before the 2015 GA session began.  

And while all this is going on I’m receiving emails from readers/RSO’s who are only concerned with their VSP posting, their conviction, their restrictions and they want ME to help THEM get off the VSP Registry. They have no idea who their Virginia Delegate and Senator are. They have never paid attention to the laws being proposed at the Virginia General Assembly session and they’ve never taken one action item from this website. All they care about is themselves. What being posted on the VSP Registry has done to their life. All while I’m opposing Bills that mostly (95%) have nothing to do with me or my family, but they do affect those RSO’s who are whining to me and who don’t care about anyone else.  

I want all readers to digest this for a moment.  

I advocate for YOU for no money. I spend thousands every year to advocate for YOU. I am unemployable because I am the Sex Offender Advocate and no employer would want me on their payroll. I am regularly shamed and chastised by elected-officials because I am advocating for you. I have given up every birthday and wedding anniversary for the last 8 years and I will continue to do so not because you ask me to but because it needs to be done and so far no one else has been willing to give the time and money I have and will give.  

So why do I spend thousands out of my own pocket, why do I put myself in a position to be publically shamed by our elected officials? Because it’s the right thing to do and so far no one else has been willing to step forward and fill this role, so I continue.  

I know how easily anyone can be swept up by these poorly written laws and the broad expansion of our Registry. I know that innocence or proof beyond a reasonable doubt no longer matters when it's a sex crime. I know that the definition of sex crime has also become too broad and the penalties include mandatory minimums with no parole are an impossible fate leaving no options but a plea deal, which then means you've given up all rights to appeal. Sex Offenders are the politician’s career stepping-stones and the public punching bags and I will not sit idly by while they attempt to continue the expansion under false statements, fear-monger and hate. 

And all I ever ask from you is to take action once in a while, in my opinion that’s NOT too much to ask it’s actually quite reasonable.  

The next time you see an Action Item, even if that particular action has NOTHING to do with you or your loved one, send an email or make a phone call. If I were to take the attitude "it doesn't affect me" then I wouldn’t speak out against about 95% of the hateful, myth-based and unconstitutional proposals that are made each year. And believe me there'd be even harsher restrictions in place against you because some of the crazy proposal that have been made over the last 8 years would have become law. 

For those of you who have taken action by calling or emailing Legislators, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you are the reason I continue on this extremely difficult and uphill battle.  

But if all you want to do is complain or tell me I’m not doing a good enough job, don’t bother sending me that email because you’re not going to like the response you get from me especially during GA session. 

Now onto Cross-Over Day, next Wednesday February 17th, we still have Bills to oppose in the second chamber and that’s what I plan on doing.
Mary Devoy