Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Action Item: Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses and Juveniles from the Public Virginia Sex Offender Registry AND Scrap Our 2-Level Conviction-Based Classification System for a 3 or 4 Level Risk-Based System

#4 and #14 of my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) have now been rolled together under Goal #4 part one and part two. 

Officially Goal #8 (Legislative Fixes) could/should also be rolled into #4 too, but at this time I’m leaving it separate.

Virginia Legislative Goal #4

Part 1) Virginia Needs a 3 or 4 Tier/Level Risk-Based Classification System for our Registered Sex Offenders. 

Virginia currently has a meaningless 2-Tiered Conviction-Based Classification System, Non-Violent or Violent. 

A Risk-Based classification system would identify those who pose a real threat to society instead of classifying them on a conviction which was mostly likely downgraded with a plea agreement (more than 94% of criminal convictions in Virginia are settled with a plea deal). So today a real-threat could be currently classified as Non-Violent because they pled to a misdemeanor instead of the original felony they were facing but a mental review of the same offender could conclude they are in fact a high-risk to reoffend. 

A Risk-Based classification system would take some time and money initially but in the long run it would save the Commonwealth millions of dollars because everyone would not be treated the same, more resources would be directed toward the higher risks whereas today they do not receive heightened monitoring. Other States have made the switch, so it can be done. 

3 Tiers/Levels would assist the public in deciphering between the Offenders, today they really can’t. 

Proposed System:
·         Tier/Level 1 would be the lowest risk to reoffend and could automatically be removed after 10 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 2 would be a moderate risk to reoffend and could petition for removal after 15 or 20 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 3 would be the highest risk to reoffend and would be registered for life 

A few states have 4-8 Tiers/Levels; this could be a possibility for Virginia too AND some States classify those who are and were civilly committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP’s) on their Registry. Today Virginia does not note who was previously civilly committed as an SVP, I think we should. 

Virginia civilly commits our SVP’s based on risk, but yet we classify our RSO’s on their conviction we should be consistent and base everything on risk. 

It’s Time to implement a 3-Level/Tier (or more) Risk-Based Classification in Virginia! 

Part 2) Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses AND Juveniles from the Public Sex Offender Registry. 

Many states do not require misdemeanors to even register and other states have a private registry for misdemeanors that is only accessible by law enforcement. A misdemeanor is not supposed to follow someone for life, but with a public registry it does. Inclusion of all offenses overburdens the system and dilutes the registry to a point where society cannot differentiate between plausible threat and a non threat. 

The Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA does NOT require public registration for misdemeanor offenses nor do they require public registration for   juveniles.