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. 

In Virginia Registered Sex Offenders don’t just have court costs, fines and attorney fees but there is also Probation visits/fees, weekly or monthly Sex Offender therapy sessions, monthly/quarterly/semi-annual polygraph tests….sometimes monthly/quarterly/semi-annual PPG tests and for some GPS monitoring. Plus, VSP re-registration every 30, 90, 120 or 365 days depending on the conviction. And when you’re mandated to attend these sessions or submit to these tests the RSO is missing work, without pay and having to cover the gas to get to and from these mandated functions. Don’t forget rent, utilities, food, transportation and possible child-support which all must be taken care of BEFORE restitution is even a consideration. And that’s if an employer will even hire the RSO because their company name and address will be posted on the VSP Registry fro all clients, vendors and neighbors to view.

Restitution is routinely included in sexual convictions across the Commonwealth so I wanted to make sure everyone reads this presentation and understand there will probably be legislation at the upcoming General Assembly session to expand n the collection of court-ordered restitution. 

Every year during the GA sessions I have to pick my battles, bills and issues to oppose or support. I don’t have a staff nor financial support so restitution is an important issue to monitor but I would most likely not oppose any legislation that could increase Probation supervision, additional interest/fines or that includes incarceration, even though I'd want to.

Hopefully some civil rights, mass incarceration or re-entry groups will be monitoring the possible bills on this subject in January and they will take a stand.

But now you know what’s been discussed at the VSCC and what could possibly be changing in 2017 via legislation. 

The third and final VSCC meeting for 2016 will be one week from tomorrow on Monday December 5, 2016 at 1PM in Richmond, VA. At this time the VSCC website does not list that meeting or the draft agenda for it, hopefully they will add it this week. 

Mary Devoy