Twitter

Monday, November 28, 2016

Charles Koch Institute /NACDL Event: A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform in the Commonwealth on December 6, 2016 8:00 am to 11:30am in Richmond Virginia


Charles Koch Institute and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform in the Commonwealth
Date- December 6, 2016
Time- 8:00 am to 11:30am
Admission- Free
Location- Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown 555 East Canal Street Richmond, VA 23219
To Register go to
 

Stakeholders from a variety of viewpoints will gather to examine current criminal justice policies in Virginia. The goal is to identify opportunities to improve safety, lower costs, and examine policies that assist individuals with criminal records. Questions include: Under current law, how well is justice being served? Are there opportunities to improve the system for all? 

Please join the Charles Koch Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a number of distinguished experts for panel discussions about these timely and relevant issues. 

Program
 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Virginia State Crime Commission Presentation - Restitution: Collection Practices and Extension of Probation (2016- HB605)


The Virginia State Crime Commission met for the second time this year back on November 10, 2016, I did not attend this meeting which means I missed the open discussion, questions, additional action items and any idea of which direction (pro or con) that each  presentation  ended on. And since Virginia does not live stream or video record ANY open meetings or even our General Assembly Committee’s.... citizens can not go back to review what was discussed and who appeared to be in favor or opposed what was discussed. 

One of the November 10th presentations that has the PowerPoint online which I found very interesting is Restitution: Collection Practices and Extension of Probation (HB 605) w/ 66 slides. 

This Restitution presentation has a lot of very interesting information. Including court data, facts about our current process, all the current issues (like not being allowed to pay w/ a debit or a credit card), the current amount of restitution in VA being paid and the amount that's delinquent, all the VA Departments / Groups that play a role in our current process, the current penalties for non-payment, what other States do to collect restitution, a recent VA Supreme Court issuance that takes effect this coming February and the 14 VSCC proposals for reform. 

One method listed under “other States collection of restitution” in the presentation is Kiosk machines. I have been proposing Sex Offender Re-Registration Kiosk machines at all VSP locations and local sheriff/police stations for a while. 
 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Being on the VSP Sex Offender Registry Means You /Your Family Can’t Even Mourn in Private


For 8 years I have been contacted by RSO’s, their spouses, their parents, their children, their significant others, their grandparents and even their roommates. I have been told stories of inopportune VSP residency checks that have spoiled birthday parties, graduation gatherings, picnics, Halloween and the list goes on.  

In Virginia the Virginia State Police (the official monitor and manager of Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT incarcerated and who are NOT under VA-DOC Probation supervision) per VA Code must physically verify each Registered Sex Offender’s residence semi-annually (twice a year) and these checks are unannounced. 
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting Ready for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session, it Starts on January 11th



The 2017 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, VA 8 weeks from tomorrow, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 9th session as a volunteer advocate working for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry and Laws. 

The annual Virginia General Assembly is where new State laws are proposed, debated, voted on and passed onto the Governor to be signed into law, amended or vetoed. 

2017 is an odd-year so we are looking at a Short Session (30 calendar days) as opposed to an even-year, Long Session (60 calendar days). 
 

November 8, 2016 Special Election Results for 2 Virginia House and 2 Virginia Senate Seats


Back on July 13, 2016 and on August 3, 2016 I posted about the vacated State seats that were going to be included on Election Day as a Special Election.
 
1.       Virginia Senate 1st District Seat is now represented by former Virginia Delegate T. Monty Mason -D
2.      Virginia Senate 5th District Seat is now represented by former Virginia Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr. -D
3.      Virginia House 93rd District  Seat is now represented C.E. "Cliff" Hayes, Jr. -D
4.      Virginia House 77th District Seat is now represented Michael P. Mullin-D

In the next few weeks these 4 new members will be assigned to Committees by the Speaker of the House which could include either Courts of Justice Committees which hear the majority of RSO Bills.
 
If you live in one of these Districts that have a new State Representative, be sure to reach out to them via email or phone and introduce yourself as their constituent. Let them know you’ll be monitoring the 2017 General Assembly, what they patron and how they vote. Also be sure to sign up for their email newsletters and if you’re on social media follow them to stay current on their positions and platforms. 

Mary Devoy

November 8, 2016 Election Results for Virginia Congressional Representatives in Washington D.C.


Back on July 13, 2016 I posted about the candidates who were retiring, running or re-running for one of Virginia’s 11 seats in U.S. Congress. 

Two VA Representatives are retiring at then end of 2016 and one Representative lost the June 2016 Primary so that meant Virginia would have a least 3 brand new Congress members for 2017.   

1.       In the 4th District of Virginia where J. Randy Forbes-R lost the nomination during the June 14, 2016 Primary, current Virginia Senator A. Donald McEachin-D won. This means McEachin’s Virginia Senate 9th District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it.
2.      In the 5th District of Virginia where Robert Hurt-R is retiring, current Virginia Senator Tom Garrett-R won. This means Garrett’s Virginia Senate 22nd District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it
3.      In the 2nd District of Virginia where Scott Rigell-R is retiring, current Virginia Delegate Scott Taylor-R won. This means Taylor’s Virginia House 85th District seat is now vacant and a Special Election will need to be held in early 2017 to fill it.
4.      In the 1st District of Virginia Robert Wittman-R won re-election        
5.      In the 3rd District of Virginia Bobby Scott-D won re-election
6.      In the 6th District of Virginia Bob Goodlatte-R won re-election
7.       In the 7th District of Virginia Dave Brat -R won re-election
8.      In the 8th District of Virginia Donald Beyer -D won re-election
9.      In the 9th District of Virginia Morgan Griffith-R won re-election
10.   In the 10th District of Virginia Barbara Comstock-R won re-election
11.    In the 11th District of Virginia Gerry Connolly-D won re-election 

Of the now 3 vacant State Seats mentioned above only one candidate has come forward to run as of this morning. Current Virginia Delegate Jennifer McClellan will run for McEachin's State Senate seat http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/article_9b6b7f25-ee9b-5dac-b0c2-6907d4cb8692.html . If McClellan wins the Senate seat in the first Special Election of 2017, then her Virginia House 71st District seat will become vacant and a second Special Election would be held in early-2017 to fill it. 

If you live in one of the 3 Districts that have a new US Representative, be sure to reach out to them via email or phone and introduce yourself as their constituent. When their new US Congressional websites go live in January 2017, sign up for their email newsletters. 

AND……………….If you live in one of the 3 State District’s that now has a vacant seat keep a close eye on the upcoming Special Election and when it’s held, go VOTE! 

Mary Devoy

Friday, November 11, 2016

Two Reminders: Today (Veteran’s Day) is one of the Holidays the VSP Locations Close AND 2 Weeks From Now is One of the Two Yearly 4-Day VSP Holiday Stretches Which Can Make Compliance of Virginia Law and Re-Registration Turn-Around Times Extremely Difficult for Virginia’s RSO’s. Don’t Make a Mistake You Could Face a Felony!


Dear Readers, 

Back on July 9, 2015 I posted about the Virginia State Police (VSP) website, VSP Locations (for years I called them Barracks but I was recently corrected by a retired VSP member) hours of operation, VSP Sex Offender Help-Line hours of operation and VSP observed holidays. 

A year and a half later the VSP website still does not post VSP location hours of operation OR observed holidays. Also the VSP locations do not post hours of operation OR observed holidays on their front-doors OR at the main desk.  

The VSP website also does not post the phone number 804-674-2825 OR the hours of operation for the VSP Sex Offender Help Desk (Hotline). Despite my multiple requests directly to the VSP to add this crucial information to their website and locations. 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Grand Challenges: Social Justice and the Need for Evidence-Based Sex Offender Registry Reform By Jill Levenson, Melissa Grady and George Leibowitz

Grand Challenges: Social Justice and the Need for Evidence-Based Sex Offender Registry Reform
By Jill Levenson, Melissa Grady and George Leibowitz

Levenson, Grady and Leibowitz recommend the following significant changes in America’s Sex Offender Registries, all based on evidence:
  1. Juveniles should be dropped from “sex offender” registries –                        Remove All Juveniles from VA’s Registry  Goal #14  http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  2. The length of registration should be guided by risk assessment research-   Goal #4   get rid of VA’s 2-Tiered Conviction Based System and move towards a 3, 4 or 5 Tiered Risk-Based System http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  3. Procedures for relief and removal should be available -                                   Automatic Removal for Non-Violent RSO’s My Goal #8  http://goo.gl/q4MmyF AND Juveniles NOT being “Lifers” in VA, My Goal #14  http://goo.gl/nZPtFP
  4. Discretion should be returned to judges                                                               In VA: Eliminate the multitude of “Sexual” Mandatory Minimums AND VA’s law that prohibits a conviction that includes SO registration from being excluded in a plead deal.
  5. Residency restrictions should be abolished-                                                        Abolish VA’s Myth-Based Residency Restrictions My Goal #7 http://goo.gl/re29t3 
The recommendations are based upon several factors, including that while “registries make people feel safer, the data indicate that their actual effectiveness in preventing sexual recidivism is quite weak”. The report also notes that federal government data show that “having to register as a sex offender did not lead to significant reductions in sex offense recidivism”. 

According to the report, the “unique label of sex offender” profoundly obstructs the ability of a registrant to successfully re-enter society due to employment difficulties, housing disruption, relationship loss, threats and harassment as well as property damage. The report also states that registrants often suffer from “psychosocial symptoms” such as shame, stigma, isolation, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Further, these impacts often extend to family members who report “financial, practical, social and psychological effects” as well as threats and harassment by community members and social rejection of children by teachers and classmates. 
 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Winchester Star Newspaper Recklessly Prints Article that Shames 4 Compliant RSO's, How Much Damage Will it Cause in Their Successful Reentry?


Dear Winchester Star, 


Why would you list “Notorious Cases” including photographs and names of Virginians who were convicted years ago? By doing this the Winchester Star has made their ability to retain housing and employment for a successful reentry back into our communities an impossible feat. 

Listing “Wanted” Registered Sex Offenders is providing a pubic service, listing compliant RSO’s is counterproductive. If they lose their rental or their job because of the publicity you made then they can not pay for their Probation Services, their Court Fees, their mandated SO therapy, their mandated polygraphs, GPS monitoring, their Victim Restitution not to mention food, clothing and housing. 

The Virginia State Police  who monitor our RSO’s and who own the data on the Registry from which you took this information does NOT randomly list compliant RSO’s on their website, their Facebook page or their Twitter account. WHY? Because it guarantees they will fail on their reentry.
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Public Sex Offender Registry System: Ineffective and Wasteful - By Sandy Rozek


"Mark B." (a pseudonym) is a Virginia RSO that contacted me 6+ months ago, and I notified all 140 Virginia Legislators, the VADOC and the Administration of how his listing on the VSP Registry and his VADOC Probation restrictions were barriers that make successful re-entries for VA's RSO's and him an impossible goal.

Mary


Public Sex Offender Registry System: Ineffective and Wasteful, October 31, 2016
By Sandy Rozek

In 2009, Mark B. was convicted of a sexual crime, served 13 months in prison and put on the public sex offender registry. Fearing he would be unemployable at any meaningful job, Mark started his own company traveling to antique shows to take old-fashioned photos for people. The business was successful, and he was proud to provide for his family and be a contributing member of society. 

In 2016, it fell apart. An unknown person sent anonymous emails to his largest clients telling them of his status and sending a link to his public registry listing. The resulting emails to Mark severing the business relationships alluded to "public safety" and "parent concerns." The anonymous emails continued, and Mark faced bankruptcy. He is slowly rebuilding, but living every day fearing his new accounts and the old ones he still has will receive a similar email and cancel as the others did. 

Proponents of the public sex offender registry say it's needed to help parents protect their children from sexual predators, but there is no evidence it does that. Very few registrants meet the criteria for predation. Furthermore, the vast majority of sexual crimes, especially against children, are committed not by those on the registry. They're committed by those close to the victims in trusted, often familial, positions. Re-offense by those on the registry living in the community has always been, across the board, in single digits before Megan's Law and afterwards.