Tuesday, February 28, 2017

18 Highly Recommended Books on Sex Offenders, Registries, Laws, Punishment, Treatment, Recidivism, SVP Civil Commitment, and Moral Panics

Today I finished reading the new book (intended to be a text book for Criminal Justice students) Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders: Theory, Research, and Realities by Donna Vandiver, Jeremy Braithwaite and Mark Stafford. 

In the past I have just given a star rating (2, 3 or 4 stars) on the books I’ve read from the full list here but have not placed them in any specific order. 

But this week I decided to make a Top 15 or maybe it would be a Top 20 List (depending on how many I decided were worthwhile) in order of what I think are the best books for this particular platform. As of today that list is a “Top 18” but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other publications I’ve listed in the Books page especially since I have not been able to read every one of them. My “Top __” list will change and grow over time as new books are published (at the moment I have 3 more new books on order) but I will keep the most current list near the top of the Books page for those looking for it. 

I’ve made this list for those who are interested in these issues but don’t want to wade through  a multitude of books, For those who want to know the basic points and statistics so if they talk with Legislators they feel confident in their knowledge on the subject.  

You may not agree with the order of some of the book below and that’s OK it’s my opinion after reading more than 50 books on Sex Offender Laws/Restrictions/Recidivism/Treatment/Punishment/Registries/Probation/Monitoring, Sex Crimes, Child Pornography, SVP Civil Commitment, Teen Sexting, Criminal Justice, Fear-Mongering, Moral Panics, and the Media to help those of you who want to learn more without taking on a huge endeavor. 

Happy reading everyone! 

Mary Devoy 

Recommended Books:
1.                      Refining Child Pornography Law: Crime, Language, and Social Consequences (Law, Meaning, and Violence) 
            By Carissa Byrne Hessick, 2016  

2.                    Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us
            By Emily Horowitz, 2015  

3.                    Sex Crime, Offenders, and Society: A Critical Look at Sexual Offending and Policy
            By Christina Mancini, 2013

4.                    Sexual Violence: Evidence Based Policy and Prevention
            Edited by Elizabeth L. Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins, 2016   

5.                     Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America
            By Chrysanthi Leon, 2011  

6.                    Sex Panic and the Punitive State
            By Roger N. Lancaster, 2011  

7.                     Justice Perverted: Sex Offense Law, Psychology, and Public Policy
            By Charles Patrick Ewing, 2011  

8.                    Reconsidering Sex Crimes and Offenders: Prosecution or Persecution?
            By Laura J. Zilney & Lisa A. Zilney, 2013 & 2009   

9.                    Juvenile Sex Offenders: What the Public Needs to Know
            By Camille Gibson and Donna M. Vandiver, 2008  

10.               Sex Offender Laws: Failed Polices, New Directions
                  By Richard Wright, 2014 & 2009 

11.                 The Perversion of Youth: Controversies in the Assessment and Treatment of Juvenile Sex Offenders
            By Frank DiCataldo, 2009  

12.                Perverts and Predators: The Making of Sexual Offending Laws
            By Laura J. Zilney & Lisa A. Zilney, 2009  

13.                Failure to Protect: America's Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State
                  By Eric S. Janus, 2009 

14.                Sexual Offenses and Offenders: Theory, Practice, and Policy
            By Karen J. Terry, 2012 & 2005

15.                Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders: Theory, Research, and Realities
                   By Donna Vandiver, Jeremy Braithwaite and Mark Stafford, 2016  

16.                Current Controversies Series: Sex Offenders and Public Policy
            Edited by Lynn Zott, 2007

17.                The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law: What every parent and professional needs to know
            By Tony Attwood, Isabelle Henault and Nick Dubin, 2014  

18.               Sex Crime and the Media
                        By Chris Greer, 2012 & 2003 

Monday, February 27, 2017

SCOTUS Argument Analysis by Amy Howe - Justices Skeptical About Social Media Restrictions for Sex Offenders

03/06/17 Update:
There have been so many great articles and editorials on the SCOTUS case since it was heard, so I’m adding them here for anyone who has missed them. –Mary

I wrote a post Social Media Can be a Life Saver During an Emergency, Except for 843,000 Registered Sex Offenders back on March 22, 2016 but after today’s SCOTUS oral argument it still rings true http://goo.gl/ToZaUN  - Mary Devoy  

Original Post:
Argument analysis: Justices skeptical about social media restrictions for sex offenders, February 27, 2017
By Amy Howe

At today’s oral argument in Packingham v. North Carolina, a challenge to a state law that imposes criminal penalties on registered sex offenders who visit social networking sites, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were “incredibly important parts” of the country’s political and religious culture. People do not merely rely those sites to obtain virtually all of their information, she emphasized, but even “structure their civil community life” around them. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg echoed those sentiments, telling the North Carolina official defending the law that barring sex offenders from social networking sites would cut them off from “a very large part of the marketplace in ideas.” Kagan was perhaps the most vocal opponent of the law, but by the end of an hour of oral argument it seemed very possible that Ginsburg and at least three of Kagan’s other colleagues would join her in striking down the North Carolina law. 

The first half of the oral argument was not entirely smooth sailing for attorney David Goldberg, who argued on behalf of Lester Packingham. Packingham, who was required to register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to taking “indecent liberties” with a minor, ran afoul of the North Carolina law when he praised God on Facebook for the dismissal of his traffic tickets. Goldberg complained that the law bans “vast swaths of core First Amendment activity” that have nothing to do with the government’s professed purpose of preventing sex offenders from using social media sites to gather information that they can then use to target minors for sexual abuse. The law targets speech on some of the platforms that Americans use most often—indeed, Goldberg noted, under the law Packingham could not even use Twitter to read the myriad messages discussing his own case—and imposes punishment without regard to whether the sex offender has actually done anything wrong. 

But Goldberg ran into resistance from justices of all ideological stripes, some of whom suggested that perhaps the ban could survive if the court interpreted it narrowly—for example, as Justice Samuel Alito posited, by reading it as limited to “core social networking sites” like Facebook or Google Plus. Justice Stephen Breyer also seemed open to this possibility, telling Goldberg that perhaps the law could be interpreted as barring sex offenders from visiting a site that allows people to meet or exchange information. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Monday February 27, 2017 SCOTUS Hears Packingham v. North Carolina – Is it Constitutional for N.C. to Ban Registered Sex Offenders from Social Media Sites?

Next Money February 27, 2017 the US Supreme Court will finally hear Packingham v. North Carolina . 

If the U.S. Supreme Courts voids the North Carolina law then any other State that has a similar law on the books will have to revoke it OR rewrite it if the Supreme Court leaves the door open for a rewrite.  

If the U.S. Supreme Courts upholds the North Carolina law then you can bet your bottom-dollar States across the country will jump on the bandwagon and pass laws doing the same.  
Right now the U.S. Supreme Court STILL has only 8 justices instead of the standard 9 that means there is a possibility there could be a tie vote and that happens then the North Carolina's Supreme Court ruling would stand (I think), not the Court of Appeals. 

This is an important RSO case to keep an eye on folks!  

Over the last few months I’ve posted articles on the case in the In the News page

Today the SCOTUS Blog has their preview of this upcoming case and I wanted to be sure to share it with everyone.  

Here it is. 


Argument preview: Court to consider social media access for sex offenders, February 24, 2017
By Amy Howe

In April 2010, Lester Packingham’s traffic ticket was dismissed, prompting him to take to Facebook to celebrate. He posted that “God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? No fine, no court costs, no nothing spent . . . Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!” 

We have no way to know whether any higher powers read Packingham’s Facebook posts. But at least one mortal authority did: a Durham, N.C., police officer who had logged onto Facebook to see whether any registered sex offenders had been using the site. He found the post by Packingham, who had been indicted in 2002 on two counts of statutory rape of a 13-year-old and eventually convicted of taking “indecent liberties of a minor.” Packingham had been sentenced to 10 to 12 months in prison, which the judge suspended, and ordered to register as a sex offender. 

Virginia Legislature Gives More Leeway and Consideration for Dogs Than for People Facing Public Registration and Stigmatization

I sent this to a few VA newspapers 2 days ago, I have not heard back so I’m going ahead and posting it today. 


Virginia dogs that bite people or another animal “deserve the benefit of the doubt” according to Delegate Matthew Fariss and the entire Virginia Legislature based on their unanimous votes for 2017’s HB2381 which is now headed to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.  

Delegate Fariss wants fewer dogs to be placed on the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry with this Bill. 

Virginia has an online Dangerous Dogs Registry, something most people aren’t aware of. It was established in 2006.  

Dogs that are declared “dangerous” by Virginia Courts must be reported by the local animal control officers to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then they are posted online.

Unlike the Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, the Dangerous Dog Registry has only had 3 follow-up pieces of Legislation (4 counting Delegate Fariss’) since it was established. Whereas per the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission from 2005 to 2016 the average number of “Sex Offender” Bills proposed at each VA General Assembly is 41.9. 

HB2381  gives local Animal Control Officers the discretion to determine if they think a dog (or cat) should be considered dangerous or not based on “single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury”. 

Currently Animal Control Officers must summon the offending dog’s owner to appear in General District Court for them to explain why their animal should not be considered dangerous. If the court does rule the dog is a danger then the owner has 45 days to obtain a dangerous-dog certificate, Farris’ Bill will reduce that time-frame to 30 days. 

During the House Agriculture Committee debate on HB2381 a representative from the VA Animal Control Association told the Committee membersWe want to be able to give officers that discretion to look at the entire totality of each individual situation”. 

That sounds reasonable, right? 

Every situation, every case, every dog is different and a one-size-fits-all law that sweeps them all together to be publicly listed as “dangerous” will lead to low-risk and even no-risk dogs (and their owners) being wrongly stigmatized. A dangerous dog is going to cause fear and perhaps even hate within the community and we should be certain that’s not happening with dogs who pose no threat, right? 

So why is it that we deny such discretion for people in Virginia? 

In Virginia the majority of crimes against children and sex crimes have mandatory minimum sentences, which allows the Prosecutors to stack charges, to be selective with their plea deals and to usually avoid a trial with more than 94% of criminal cases being settled by a plea. In these cases Virginia judges have no discretion to consider the specific facts of the case or the history and character of the person charged, the minimum sentence is written into Virginia Code our judges are not permitted to give the-benefit-of-the-doubt in cases of a low or a no-risk offender. 

Virginia Code also states that no plea deal for a crime that requires registration as a Sex Offender can include avoiding the registration, it’s mandatory 

People who are charged with a crime against a child or a sex crime in Virginia have no options; there is no flexibility for them or for the judge, only for the Prosecutor. 

For 9 Virginia General Assembly sessions I have opposed myth-based and hate-driven legislation directed towards those who are already on the VSP Sex Offender Registry and for those who will one day be listed. I have been advocating for data-driven laws and to allow discretion in each case, classification and duration of registration and so far no reform has been taken seriously. 

But this year Virginia Legislators have unanimously agreed that dogs deserve the-benefit-of-the-doubt and that each individual situation for dogs should be considered before State registration is deemed appropriate. 

Yet people in Virginia can not and will not be given the same consideration or options that we are about to give to our animals.  

Somehow our priorities and the foundation of justice being served have been flipped in the Commonwealth with 2017’s HB2381.  

So before anyone cheers for the passage of HB2381 ask yourself why Virginia’s Legislators have intentionally made it impossible for people to get fair and balanced consideration when accused of a “heinous act” but they all believe latitude is needed for dogs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reason.com / Reason Magazine April 2017 Issue- Sex and Kids by Jacob Sullum and American Sex Police by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

I really want to post Jacob Sullum’s latest article Sex and Kids from Reason.com but for the moment it’s only available with a Reason.com subscription so if I post it I may face legal repercussions.
Once April begins the article may be posted for free on their website but for anyone who has a Reason.com subscription I recommend reading it if not Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s article American Sex Police too.

Sex and Kids, April 1, 2017
The unjust, irrational, and unconstitutional consequences of pedophilia panic
American Sex Police, April 1, 2017
With sweeping trafficking stings, the FBI returns to its roots as the nation's vice squad.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Action Item- Virginia HB1559-Delegate Paul Krizek Special Identification Cards for Person 70 Years of Age or Older Has Been Amended by Transportation Committee to Limit Those Who are on the VSP Sex Offender Registry

A bill that originally had nothing to do with Registered Sex Offenders was amended back on 01/16/17 by the House Transportation Committee to include them. 

HB1559- Patroned by Delegate Paul Krizek was originally increasing the fee and extending the time before expiration from 7 to 8 years for Virginia Special Identification Cards (for Person 70 Years of Age or Older who do not have a Driver’s License) under §§ 46.2-333.1 and 46.2-345.  

Then on 01/16/17 the House Transportation Committee amended HB1559 and I was not aware of the change until today but it’s already passed through both chambers.  

The amendment is: 

C. Every special identification card shall expire on the last day of the month of birth of the applicant in years in which the applicant attains an age exactly divisible by five applicant's birthday at the end of the period of years for which a special identification card has been issued. At no time shall any special identification card be issued for less than three nor more than seven eight years, except under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1 and except that those cards issued to children under the age of 15 shall expire on the child's sixteenth birthday, thereafter the special identification card may be renewed on or before the last day of the month of birth of the applicant and shall be valid for five years, expiring in the next year in which the applicant's age is exactly divisible by five, except under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1. Notwithstanding these limitations, the Commissioner may extend the validity period of an expiring card if (i) the Department is unable to process an application for renewal due to circumstances beyond its control, (ii) the extension has been authorized under a directive from the Governor, and (iii) the card was not issued as a temporary special identification card under the provisions of subsection B of § 46.2-328.1. However, in no event shall the validity period be extended more than 90 days per occurrence of such conditions. Any special identification card issued to a person required to register pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1 shall expire on the applicant's birthday in years which the applicant attains an age equally divisible by five. For each person required to register pursuant to Chapter 9 of Title 9.1, the Department may not waive the requirement that each such person shall appear for each renewal or the requirement to obtain a photograph in accordance with subsection C of § 46.2-323.

So per this 2017 Bill which has passed through both the Virginia House and Senate and is headed to the Governor to be signed into law……..any 70+ year old Registered Sex Offender who does not have a drivers license and needs a Special Identification Card MUST somehow (they don’t have a drivers license) make it into a DMV location in the month of their 70, 75, 80, 85 and 90 birthdays. Unlike the rest of the senior citizens in Virginia who can renew both online or through the mail and their cards are valid for 8 years.  

This 2017 change is similar to the change made back in 2008 (before I became an advocate) when HB534- Patroned by Delegate Bobby Mathieson (he’s now a U.S. Marshal in Hampton Roads) when the House Transportation Committee increase Virginia Driver’s Licenses lifespan from 5 years to 8 years and to encourage online or postal renewals they added a DMV-location visit fee, EXCEPT if you are on the VSP Sex Offender Registry. Any RSO”S driver’s license is only valid for 5 years and they are required to renew in-person at a DMV location which includes the additional fee.  

In the last 6 years there have been multiple “Sex Offender” Bills or amendments that have gone through the House and Senate Transportation Committees, it seemed like a new theme for them, I will have to do a better job at monitoring those Committees too.  

If anyone wants to join me in asking Governor McAuliffe to amend HB1559 before signing it to allow any Registered Sex Offender who can not drive to submit a letter from their doctor stating this so that they can renew through the postal mail or online I would appreciate it.  

Here is a sample message for anyone unsure of what to ask for.  

Dear Governor McAuliffe,  

2017’s HB1559-Delegate Krizek is headed to your desk.  

The House Transportation Committee added an amendment on January 16th that has remained in the Bill which doesn’t take into account the age, mobility and/or health of those it is directed towards.  

The amendment to section C states that anyone on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry must renew their Special Identification card (for Person 70 Years of Age or older) every 5 years instead of every 8 years AND that they are NOT permitted to do so online OR through the mail.  

These Virginians are 70+ years old and they need these cards because they do NOT drive. Many of them probably don’t make it out much except to the doctor’s office where they would need to show identification along with their Medicare or Insurance card. But the Virginia Legislature has mandated they go in-person to a DMV location to renew their cards AND they’ve decided that it will be valid for 37% less time than other cards.  

I understand that Virginia Drivers Licenses for Registered Sex Offenders also mandate in-person renewal at a DMV location and that they too expire 37% sooner than other Virginians Drivers Licenses, but the citizens who need these Special Identification Cards don’t drive and could be in poor health. This Bill prohibits them from renewing through the US mail or online with the help of a family member, this is truly pointless.  

Please amend HB1559 to allow any VSP Registered Sex Offender who can not drive to submit a letter to DMV from their doctor stating that they are unable to travel to a DMV location every 5 years and allow them to renew either through the mail or online like everyone else.  

Thank you very much.  



Submit your amendment request to the Governor here:

Thank you  

Mary Davye Devoy

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stafford Virginia Teen Faced 350 Years in Prison for Receiving 5 Sext's, But Will Get Life on the VSP Registry

A Letter from the Father of the Teen Sentenced to Life as a “Violent Sexual Offender” for Online Relationship, February 20, 2017

Original Post:

Dear Virginia Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Public Safety Moran and Virginia Delegates and Senators, 

Good evening. 

I have some issues with the below article, like the State Police stating a  Violent RSO can petition for removal after only 3 years on the VSP Registry is 100% non-sense, if someone from the VSP actually claimed that falsehood in a letter they need to be released of their position immediately. It’s a fact 85% of Violent Registered Sex Offenders are “Lifers” in Virginia, the rest must wait until 25 years has passed before they can petition, but let’s move past that part for the moment. 

Asst. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Frank has prosecuted now 19 year old Zachary for the images he received when he was 17 years old from a 13 year old he never met in person and who was in her underwear, NOT nude. 

Zachary was charged with 20 felonies in Stafford, VA that came with a possible sentence of 350 years in a Virginia prison. 

Asst. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Frank offered Zachary a plea deal of only 2 counts of indecent liberties w/ a minor for which he will become a Violent Registered Sex Offender, for life. 

Zachary has been evaluated by 2 psychologists and there is no evidence he is a danger to society. 

He is sitting in jail at this moment awaiting his sentence on March 9th. 

Speaker Bill Howell has written a letter supporting Zachary and stating registration as a Violent Sex Offender for life is not warranted, I could not agree more.

But then I would ask all of you, whom I have been asking for the last 9 years to make a provision to exclude Teen Sexting from VA’s Child Pornography statutes because every Virginia C.A.’s prosecutorial discretion is not up to par why is this one young mans case worthy of the Speaker of the Houses intervention but all the others haven’t been?

In the defense of MANY truly absurd Bills over the last 9 years I’ve heard many of you say “if it saves just one child, it’s worth it”. Yes, Speaker Howell has taken action over rhetoric but cases like this shouldn’t be piecemealed, there is a glaring problem with Virginia law and it’s finally time to take action. 

1. Zachary does NOT belong on the VSP Sex Offender Registry, period. 

2. All of Asst. Commonwealth Attorney Ryan Frank’s cases and plea deals need to be reviewed by the Stafford County Commonwealth Attorney and if there are any other Teen Sexting cases take them away from Mr. Frank.

3. If someone within the VSP sent a letter claiming after only 3 years on the VSP Registry Zachary would be allowed to petition the court for removal when VA law clearly says otherwise, they need to be disciplined and counseled in VA law this week. 

4. It's time to stop prosecuting  Teen Sexting as a crime in Virginia if no threat, force, intimidation, extortion or mass-publication has occurred.

Mary Devoy

Teen Girl Sent Teen Boy 5 Inappropriate Pictures. He Faced Lifetime Registry as a 'Violent Sex Offender' or 350 Years in Jail.
Welcome to the world of teens, computers, and prosecutors who want to look tough on sex offenders.