Friday, October 7, 2016

Action Item: For the Last 9 Years the Virginia Legislature and the State Police Have Intentionally Kept VA Code that is Impossible to Comply With. Ask Them to Finally Act in January 2017!

This post is Part 9 out of 10 of If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing….  series that I started back in May. Where I select a few of my Legislative Goals for Virginia and ask you to take action on the ones that speak to you. 

#3 of my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) has always been to get Virginia Code to align with Virginia State Police hours of operation / registration availability. Current Virginia Code conflicts with the reality of the access our RSO have to be able to comply (register, re-register or change data) with the VSP Registry mandates.  

Goal #3 has always had 2 parts and I am going to leave it that way in this post. 

·       Per § 9.1-903. Virginia’s RSO’s have 3 days (not 3 business days) to register in-person (not electronically or over the phone) ANY changes (additions or deletions) with the mandated information at a VSP Barracks their hours are Mon-Fri 8:30AM-4PM (no evenings, no weekends, no holidays).    The VSP Sex Offender Hotline observes the same hours and holidays as the VSP Barracks so RSO’s can not ask any questions except during business hours.                             

Currently ANY three or four day holiday weekend becomes a failure to register for our RSO’s which could result in a Class 6 Felony through no fault of their own.
·       There are a minimum of four 3-Day Holidays (President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day & Columbus Day) for Virginia Sate Police every year. There are two 4-Day Holidays (Thanksgiving/Black Friday & Lee-Jackson/MLK Jr.) for Virginia Sate Police every year.
·       Plus if any other observed holidays (Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, Christmas Day or New Years Day) fall on a Saturday then the VSP Barracks and the S.O. Hotline are closed on Friday and if an observed holiday falls on a Sunday then the VSP Barracks and S.O. Hotline are closed on Monday.
·      Also the week from Christmas to New Years, the VSP Barracks have significantly reduced staff working and have been known to turn away RSO’s attempting to comply with Virginia Law. 

Two Possible Solutions for Problem #1:
1.       Revise § 9.1-903. to say “3 business days”, aligning with the VSP hours of operation.
2.      Revise § 9.1-903. to say  5 days” , aligning with the VSP hours of operation. 

Error/Problem #2:
Per § 9.1-903. Virginia’s RSO’s have 30 minutes to register in-person (not electronically or over the phone) ANY changes (additions or deletions) with ALL email addresses and instant messaging identifications. 

Most Virginians live more than 1 hour from the nearest VSP Barracks but yet they are expected to crate and delete email addresses and advise the authorities of the changes all within a 30 minute window. 

This is because since the law passed in 2007 the Virginia State Police has failed to provide an electronic system for Registered Sex Offender to register their email changes. 

Some background:
When 2007’s HB2749-Hurt was originally drafted it stated “3 days” just like all other RSO timeframes to report data to the VSP.
But then a well known Virginia “Marijuana Advocate” Roy stood up and proposed to the Committee to make it 30 minutes thinking the Virginia State Police would create an electronic system to accept RSO’s email changes, the Committee accepted the amendment. I learned this back in 2012 while defending HB416 because Roy stood up to remind the veteran Committee members that he proposed the change and he had no idea that all that time the VSP never created an electronic system for RSO’s to comply and instead they were all racing down the Interstate during business hours attempting not to commit a felony because of his suggestion. Roy felt terrible that for the last 5 years offenders were having such a difficult time complying with an impossible requirement and I had to tell him it wasn’t his fault but the VSP and the Virginia Legislature for “killing” every Bill I’ve brought to fix this known error. –Mary Devoy
·         Previous Virginia Legislation attempting to accomplish these 2 goals:
Ø       2011- HB1628 (Amended in House Militia, Police and Safety, VSP opposed it. Left to die in Appropriations)
Ø       2012- HB416  (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, VSP opposed it.)
·         Previous Virginia Legislation attempting to eliminate the 30-minute timeframe AND stating that usernames and passwords are NOT required to be registered:
Ø       2016- SB243  (Failed to Report 6-9, in Senate Courts of Justice) 

Three Possible Solutions for Problem #2:
1.     The Virginia State Police creates a secure (password protected) electronic system, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year that sends an immediate receipt to the RSO confirming the new information has been received by the VSP.
2.    Revise § 9.1-903. to say “3 business days”, aligning with the VSP hours of operation.
3.    Revise § 9.1-903. to say  5 days” , aligning with the VSP hours of operation.               

For 9 years Virginia Code has set a standard that Registered Sex Offenders are unable to comply with because of the VSP’s hours of operation and their failure to set-up an electronic system for email changes all under the threat of a new felony. 3 times (2011, 2012 and 2016) the Virginia Legislature has intentionally failed to correct these 2 known issues setting Virginia’s RSO’s up for failure. 

2017 is the year that Virginia Legislators and the State Police need to take the necessary steps to correct their past failures. 

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 Virginia code.
                For Issue#1:
                        Change the statute to say “3 business days” OR “5 days
                For Issue#2:
                                Option A- Create an electronic system available 24 hours a day that send a time stamped receipt to the RSO
                         Option B- Change the statute to say “3 business daysOR5 days
  1. The Virginia ACLU and ask them to lobby for these 2 changes because for the last 9 years the State has failed to implement a registration system that Virginians can actually comply with.
Thank you for your support!

Mary Devoy