Friday, October 7, 2016

Action Item: Virginia is One of Only 6 States that Publicly Posts Registered Sex Offenders Employer/Company Name AND Full Address, Shaming Virginia Businesses and Increasing Unemployment

This post is Part 10 (the last) of If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing….  series. 

#1 of my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) has always been to remove the Employer information from the online Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry. Virginia Businesses are being punished / shamed for hiring Virginians listed on the VSP Registry because they are willing to contribute to the successful re-entry of former-offenders in Virginia. 

Virginia is one of only 6 States that publicly posts an RSO’s Employer/Company name AND full address. 

- 29 states do not list any employer information publicly; five of those States are Federal Adam Walsh Act AWA/SORNA compliant.
- 10 States publically post just the address; eight of those are AWA/SORNA compliant.
- 5 States post the city, county and/or zip code; 3 of those are AWA/SORNA compliant. 

In September 2013 Texas and in 2012 Kansas both removed ALL employment information from their public registries.  

Why? Because those 44 States & Congress recognize employment as a top priority in an ex-offender's successful reentry back into our communities. Without employment the rules of probation would be broken, court fines and restitution would not be paid and stable housing would be impossible. 

Removing the Employer Information from the Internet changes none of the Registration Requirements of Virginia's RSO’s.
1. RSO’s would continue to register ALL their employer information with the Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer).
2. The Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer) would still confirm that their place of employment does not violate any State Law AND they would still confirm that the RSO does actually work there.  

Our current system is indirectly penalizing those Virginia Businesses who are willing to hire citizens who have paid their court-ordered debt to society by giving them a second chance. 

Most employers will not hire otherwise qualified individuals knowing that their company name will be posted on the VSP Registry. The employers do NOT want to be bothered with the criticism, shame, intimidation, harassment and occasional threats that follow. The sources are varied coming from customers, clients, vendors, neighboring businesses and even strangers but the theme is the same. They want nothing more than for the person listed on the VSP Registry to fail. 

Releasing the Employer information doesn’t just harm Former-Offenders and their families but it hurts Virginia Businesses it creates an environment where Success is not an option for anyone involved. 

In the last 8 Virginia General Assembly sessions I have secured 3 Patrons to sponsor such a Bill but every time it gets amended to only remove the employer/company name and then dies in the House Sub-Committee or it never even made it out of the House Sub-Committee. 

                Previous Virginia Legislation attempting to accomplish this:
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     2012- HB413   (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, VSP opposed it.)
Ø     2016- SB11    (Passed the Virginia Senate 22-17 to then be stopped in House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 12) 

2017 is the year that Virginia Legislators need to stop punishing Virginia Businesses for hiring former offenders who must have employment to secure housing and provide for themselves and their families. 

In the next week please contact:
  1. Your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator and ask them to patron legislation at the next (2017) Virginia General Assembly session to change remove the Employer information from the online VSP Registry.       
  2. The Virginia ACLU and ask them to lobby for this change.
Thank you for your support! 

Mary Devoy