Thursday, May 19, 2016

If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing

April 13, 2016 -      Goal #22                            Hate Crime                                      
May 20, 2016      Goal #7                               Residency Restrictions                             
June 3, 2016 -        Goal #9                               Teen Sexting                                   
June 7, 2016       Goal/Question #17         RSO’s Right to Worship
June 14, 2016 –     Goal #11                             21-Day Rule /#16  Add Sexual Misdemeanors to Writs                                                  
June 29, 2016 –     Goal #8                               Automatically Remove Non-Violent RSO’s from VSP Registry on 15 year Anniversary 
July 28, 2016 –      Goal #12                             Rotating Re-Registration System based on DOB
August 10, 2016 Goal #4                              Scrap 2-Level Conviction-Based Classification System for a 3 or 4 Level Risk-Based System / Goal #14 Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses and Juveniles from the Public Virginia Sex Offender Registry
October 7, 2016      Goal #3                               3 day/30 Minute Statute verbiage needs to be Amended
October 7, 2016      Goal #                              Remove Employer Info from VSP Registry
Original Post:

I receive email’s almost everyday from RSO’s or their loved ones asking me to help them; many times they believe I’m an attorney (I’m not). 

So what do I do as a volunteer advocate working toward data-driven reform of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry since October 2008, what are my goals? 

Well I do a lot and it’s always evolving but I have a few set goals that cover much of my time so I’m going to share them here for those of you who wonder what I do. 

My first goal has always been to oppose harsher restrictions and regulations that are completely baseless. Playing defense on a platform that far too many of our elected officials exploit to build their own resume. Every year at the General Assembly in Richmond, VA I face an on-slot of punitive and questionably Unconstitutional measures and almost every year I am the only one to stand up in Sub-Committee or Full-Committee to question if there is even a need for the Bill and then to question the legitimacy of it by proving data a research in opposition. 

My second goal soon became to keep Virginia’s RSO’s updated on what their legal obligations as an RSO were  , if a Virginia statute is unclear or overly broad to get clarification from the Administration and if new proposals were working their way through the Virginia Legislature to get RSO’s and their loved ones involved in the process by contacting their District’s Delegate and Senator.

My third goal is to educate the Virginia Delegates and Senators, the Administration, the Virginia State Police, VA-DOC and the media on the real recidivism rates , on research in this field , on programs that are working in other states, on successful reform going on in other States and every time I have an example of failures and problems in the Commonwealth I alert every Virginia Legislator to it and re-propose the solution I’ve previous made that could fix it. This way no Virginia lawmaker, decision maker or authority can ever claim they didn’t know about these serious issues that need to be reformed. And every election cycle means I have a new audience to educate. During each General Assembly session while I’m monitoring Bills and Committee schedules to support and oppose proposed Legislation I’m also scheduling meetings with Delegates and Senators the average number of meetings I have each session is 16. Then during “The Off Season” (Spring to Autumn) I’m requesting meetings with Delegates and Senators either in their District or if their District is more than 3 hours away from me then in Richmond when they are in the capital for another meeting. 

My fourth goal is closely related to the third goal, to stay current with what Virginia Commissions, Task-Forces and Advisory Committees are meeting about, considering and plan to propose when it has anything to do with sex, sex crimes, RSO’s or Registries. This way “surprises” are few and far between. 

My fifth goal has been to find Patrons (Virginia Delegates / Senators) for Legislation to fix specific issues that could be solved with changes in Virginia Code.
Ø       2009-   HB2225          (Failed in House Militia, Police and Safety Sub-Committee, VSP opposed it)
Ø       2010-    SB635             (Passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 to then be stopped in a House Militia, Police and Safety Sub-Committee of 6, VSP opposed it.)
Ø       2010-    HB1328          (“Died on the vine”, VSP opposed it)
Ø       2011-     HB2382         ( “Died on the vine”, VSP opposed it)
Ø       2011-     HB1628          (Amended in House Militia, Police and Safety, VSP opposed it. Left to die in Appropriations)
Ø       2012-    SB420             (Passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 to then be stopped in House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee, VSP opposed it)
Ø      2012-    HB413             (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, VSP opposed it.)
Ø      2012-    HB416             (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, VSP opposed it.)
Ø       2014-    SB553             (Continued until 2015)
Ø       2016-    SB11                 (Passed the Virginia Senate 22-17 to then be stopped in House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 12)
Ø      2016-    SB243              (Failed to Report 6-9, in Senate Courts of Justice) 

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to post some of the “Legislative Fixes” I’ve been advocating for over the last 8 years, one at a time. And if you agree with the posted proposal I’m going to ask you to reach out to your one Virginia Delegate and one Virginia Senator this summer and ask them to Patron a Bill at the next session in January 2017. 

Reform isn’t going to happen with only one or two advocates, we need your participation to see some successes in the Commonwealth, otherwise nothing will ever change and in reality it could become worse as it has in other States. 

You have to take risk to see a gain and just because the gain hasn’t come quickly…..doesn’t mean you throw in the towel, you press on. 

Mary Devoy