Saturday, February 4, 2017

Update on HB1485 Patroned by Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn – The Virginia House Courts of Justice Criminal-Sub AND Full Committee Failed to Add Grandfather Clause So Homelessness for Some is Inevitable

The below was emailed to all 99 (currently 1 seat is vacant) Virginia Delegates (House members) at 8:10AM on February 4, 2017. 

Dear Virginia Delegates,

On Wednesday February 1st HB1485 was a last minute addition to that day’s Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee’s docket. Its Senate Companion SB1072 had died earlier in the week in Finance after correctly having a grandfather –clause added. So I advised the House Courts Committee members of the necessary grandfather-clause hoping they’d take action on February 1st, they did NOT. 

As originally written and as currently written the State Police, the 3 Bill Patrons and the Full Courts of Justice Committee members have ALL approved the retroactive application of Residency and Loitering restrictions against currently Registered Sex Offenders who moved to Virginia 5, 10 and 15 years ago. They have refused to add a grandfather clause for residences established prior to July 1, 2017 which WILL result in some citizens current homes becoming felonies this coming July. An unknown number of Virginians who are compliant today, with a home, a job, family support and are paying taxes will be facing new felony charges from the State Police and will be forced to move and or become homeless. Such a cruel and unconstitutional application of Virginia law does NOT make our communities safer but actually makes them less safe. 

The State Police, the 3 Patrons and the Courts of Justice Committee members are all AOK with forcing former-offenders who are all obeying current Virginia law onto the streets. A homeless, jobless Sex Offender is more likely to commit a new offense (creating new victims) than a Sex Offender who is stable with a roof over their head. 

In my 9 years as a volunteer advocate at the annual General Assembly session who is only asking for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Laws and Registries I have witnessed extreme and incorrect claims/stances by Virginia Legislators against those listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry because they are an easy target to take your anger and hate out on them but intentionally making their current residences  felonies which will lead to homelessness takes the cake. 

This is what happens when politics interferes with policy. Hate, anger, prejudice and vengeance become more important than facts. 

I can only hope that one Delegate reading this will offer up a grandfather-clause on the House floor but I won’t hold my breath because I know if they do another Delegate will counter their amendment with a fear-mongering anti-Sexual Predator speech.  

I continue to ask myself when will the Virginia Legislature stop the “Sex Offender” rhetoric and finally look at the last 20 years of data and evidence that I continue to provide, I pray it doesn’t take another 9 years. 


Mary Davye Devoy