Sunday, March 20, 2016

Roanoke Times Piece on U.S. Postal Service NOT Delivering Mail, an Issue I’ve been Raising for 7 Years with Virginia Legislators, the Administration and the State Police

Emailed to every Virginia Representative's office today

Dear Virginia Representatives in Congress and U.S Senate, 

The Roanoke Times had an editorial yesterday on an increase in USPS mail never arriving at its destination not because it was addressed incorrectly but because of incompetency, laziness and indifference by the US Postal Service. 

In case you missed it, here it is:
Casey: Mail complaints are getting Congressional attention, March 19, 2016
In 2014, 88 million pieces of missing mail ended up at the U.S. Postal Service Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta. Of those, the post office managed to deliver -- or return to the sender -- only 2.5 million pieces. The other 88.5 million were destroyed, donated or auctioned.

Non-delivery of USPS certified letters from the Virginia State Police for re-registration of Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders has been an issue I’ve been raising to our State Legislators and Administration since late 2008. 

First let me give you some numbers directly from the Virginia State Police (I have the FOIA’s for anyone who would like to see them). 

Near the end of 2009:
    • There was approximately 16,238 Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) in Virginia
    • Of those 7,014 were under VSP supervision and 3,171 were under VA-DOC supervision
    • The cost of postage for one USPS certified letter was $10.04
    • The VSP spent a total of $188,360.86 just on USPS postage (not including printing and stuffing) for RSO re-registration letters, (that works out to be approximately 18,761 letters).
Near the end of 2015:
·         There was approximately 22,049 Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) in Virginia
·         Of those 9,278 were under VSP supervision and 3,538 were under VA-DOC supervision
·         The cost of postage for one USPS certified letter was $10.48
·         The VSP spent a total of $584,333.00 just on USPS postage (not including printing and stuffing) for RSO re-registration letters, and they mailed out 55,757 letters to those under VSP and VA-DOC supervision. 

What is a VSP re-registration letter? 

It is a VSP SP-236A form that lists an RSO’s:
·         Name
·         Mailing / Physical address
·         Sex
·         Race
·         DOB
·         FBI number
·         Registration number
·         Social Security number
·         Due Date for Re-registration          (could be a weekend or holiday)
·         Due Date for Next Photo                 (could be a weekend or holiday AND it could be a different date than  the re-registration, so a entirely separate letter and trip to the VSP Barracks is  needed) 

A Virginia Registered Sex Offender must sign and thumbprint the form confirming all information is correct.
Completely missing from the SP-236A since 2012 are:
·         All Email addresses
·         All Instant Messenger Names
·         All Chat Identifiers
·         All Phone numbers
·         All Employment information
·         All Vehicles  

Which means at re-registration when an RSO is confirming everything previously registered is still accurate in the VSP database, half of their data is MISSING on the form so they can not confirm that a typo or old data isn’t in the database and yet they are signing their name that all is well. 

Virginia’s RSO’s depending on their conviction OR if they have any failures to register have varying re-registration timeframes. Some re-register every 30 days, most every 90 days, some every 120 days and a very few are annually. This means their due date(s) never repeats, making remembering/scheduling their re-registration in time of the due date impossible. And 4 years ago the VSP just removed the “next registration date” from all of our RSO’s VSP Internet postings so they can no longer look online to see when their next letter is expected to arrive. 

Since 2008 I have contacted the Virginia Legislators, the Administration and even the VSP about the intentional non-delivery of these USPS certified letters by the postal employees many, many times. 

I have shared my families personal experience back in 2009 when delivery of the letter was claimed to be made by a USPS employee (but per our security system recording the claim could be proven as false) and then the letter went missing at my local USPS location, I have shared multiple RSO’s experiences from across the state, I have shared exact quotes from the VSP Sex Offender Hotline employees to RSO’s who are looking for their letters, I filed a complaint with the US Postal Service Office of the Inspector General on August 6, 2012 because a Postal employee told a Virginia Beach Christian Morality class that I was an invited speaker of that he and his coworkers purposefully don’t deliver these letters but the OIG closed the complaint a few weeks later without ever speaking with me or notifying me of the results of their investigation even though I continually called to get a status update, I have taken note that in 2013 that the VSP held classes for USPS employees on delivering these letters and since 2014 I have asked every Virginia Legislator to sponsor a bill to eliminate these very expensive letters and to move towards a rotating re-registration system like Michigan. I have shared with the Virginia Legislators and the VSP what parts of VA Code would need to be amended, how the rotating schedule would work and how to divide up the Offenders. And yet the USPS letters are still being printed, stuffed and mailed out by the VSP for half a million dollars and the letters are still NOT being delivered by the US Postal Service. The most recent email I shared with State Legislators about a specific non-delivery by the USPS that I was alerted to was dated November 11, 2015, 7 years since I raised the alarm the issues persist. 

I can share what steps would be needed and what a rotating schedule would look like if anyone is interested, just send me an email. I can also share some of the email’s I’ve sent to our State Legislators and to the VSP about this issue. 

You see, without this letter (SP-236A form) in hand the VSP and the local authorities will NOT allow an RSO to re-register so if an RSO is leaving town and attempting to be pro-active knowing they might miss the letter they are turned-away from their legal requirement to re-register by that date. 

Per a 2009 FOIA I learned the VSP process for these re-registration letters. The letters are computer generated, in the event of a weekend or holiday the letters are printed AFTER, not before and they are taken to the Post Office 10-12 days prior to the due date and no adjustments are made for weekends or holidays and a due date could land on a weekend or a holiday. It takes time to log every barcode and place a certified sticker on every envelope before they are mailed out.

As we know it can take 3-6 days for a regular letter to make it from one side of the state to the other a certified letter means the postal worker has to get out of their vehicle and go to the door an effort I’ve learned per my security cameras that is sometimes too much for them to make. 

In that “10-12 day” period there could be 2 weekends and the second weekend could be a holiday possibly a 4-day holiday weekend (4-day weekends include Lee-Davis/MLK and Thanksgiving). 

Many times our RSO’s are left with only 1 to 3 days to meet the VSP deadline or face a felony, not because they aren’t willing to re-register, but because the VSP insists on using the USPS for our RSO’s re-registrations.  

The majority of these certified letters are NOT signed for by the RSO at their front door. The majority are picked up at the local post office because either the RSO was at work when the USPS attempted delivery OR because the USPS delivery person NEVER attempted delivery and the only way to avoid a felony is to go to the local Post Office and raise a “stink”. So any claim by the VSP that the delivery of these letters assists the VSP in confirming an RSO actually resided at that address is a misguided justification because “change” is scary and sometimes change that will save money in the long run requires more effort in the beginning. 

Per an email from the VSP on 12/30/15 an RSO who is under VA-DOC Probation supervision must notify their Probation Officer AND the VSP of any change in information (SP-236 form) and re-registrations (SP-236A form).  So RSO’s under Probation are running between both the VSP AND the VA-DOC, what a waste of time and effort! Can the VA-DOC and VSP NOT communicate with one another? 

And ANY failure to register by the VSP due date for Virginia’s RSO is under a threat of a new felony, even if the original conviction was a misdemeanor. A punitive measure for what is claimed an administrative act. 

So in summary, Virginians are complaining about USPS mail delays, non-deliveries and returns, while extremely frustrating and unacceptable at least they are not facing a felony for the USPS’s incompetence but yet thousands of Virginians are and after 7 years of raising these issues and making suggestions for a better, less expensive system the Commonwealth has made no effort to address the problem. 

Why? Because their Sex Offenders and no one cares about them. 

It’s time the State of Virginia stops wasting time and money on these USPS re-registration letters and move towards a rotating system like other states have. 


Mary Davye Devoy