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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Everyone Keeps Asking Me, Why Don’t You Take a Vacation? Life as a U.S. Registered Sex Offender isn’t Just a Posting on the Internet, its One Arbitrary Misstep Away From a Felony.


 

It’s July, smack-dab in the middle of vacation time. 
 


Everywhere I go, everyone asks me what we are doing this week, this weekend.  
 
Are you going somewhere for vacation? 
 
Are you doing something fun this weekend? 
 
Have you been anywhere exciting recently? 
 
No,  No,  And NOOOO! 
 
Years ago we had talked about a trip to Alaska to see icebergs and polar bears. 
 
We used to ski. 
 
We had planned to travel to Ireland and Scotland to visit castles and ruins for our 20th wedding anniversary which would have been 2012. 
 
If we leave our home in Virginia for a either a short or a long vacation, it comes with too many questions and risks. 
 
Even a job related training conference out-of-state is no longer an option; even if not attending could possibly result in termination. 
 
As a Virginia Registered Sex Offender staying in another State means we must find out what all the legal restrictions, regulations and mandates are ahead of time and there is no single place to find that information.  
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to register with every authority in every county/city we pass through, or face a felony. 
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to avoid any public street or sidewalk within a certain distance from a school, daycare facility, library, park, playground or athletic field, or face a felony. 
 
Just traveling through a State my spouse could be required to avoid fast-food establishments and malls w/ playgrounds, or face a felony. 
 
When we arrive to our destination he might have to register with the authorities, give his fingerprints, be photographed or even give a DNA sample. In some States the rules are statewide in others it’d by county/city it could be within 48 hours like in Las Vegas or it could be by the fifth day like in Florida. Then uniformed officers could possibly visit our hotel, condo, beach house or relative’s home to confirm the location he's registered is accurate. This could include an elderly grandmother’s home or college roommate’s house would be added to the Sex Offender Registry, guessing we wouldn't be invited back for a second visit after this humiliation for them. 
 
Oh, an ignorance of the law is not a defense. 
 
He could be legally banned from lakes, beaches, movie theaters, golf courses, ski resorts, state fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, zoos, pools, fitness centers, churches or more. That State may or may not advise the visiting RSO’s of the areas they are prohibited from and if we made one unintended error, he’d face a felony.   
 
Or like Disney World or Six Flags, they could have a No RSO Policy and once they scan his drivers license swipe-strip, deny him entry no if's-ands-or-buts after we traveled all the way there. 
 
 

Another Virginia State Police Internal Policy Change that Directly Affects All Registered Sex Offenders But No Notice was Given to the RSO’s


Yesterday I was advised that the Virginia State Police (VSP) is no longer sending out a certified letter advising Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders(RSO) that their official VSP photograph is due to be retaken. 

Just a reminder to readers, the Virginia State Police is the official owner of the VA Sex Offender Registry/database and they are the  dedicated authority to monitor and manage Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT incarcerated or under VA-DOC Probation supervision. Local authorities (police and sheriff’s) can take RSO re-registrations, photos and data changes but the local authorities send all of that to the VSP to confirm and enter into the VSP Registry. 

This post is to alert VA’s RSO’s of this 2017 VSP policy change because yet again the VSP isn’t notifying the RSO’s of an internal policy that directly affects them and a large part of my advocacy has become notifying VA RSO’s and their loved ones of the ever-changing RSO policies, bans, requirements, restrictions, mandates and laws. 

I received an email from an RSO on 07/28 stating that he never received his letter from the VSP advising him to renew his VSP Registry photograph. 

Per § 9.1-904. Reregistration every VA RSO “must submit to be photographed every 2 years”. 

Now, for those who are NOT on the VSP Registry, you’re probably thinking OK, that’s easy to remember, go get your photograph taken at the same time every two years, aaaahhhhhh but it isn’t. 

Let me give you some background on re-registration timeframes and VSP photographs so you’ll understand the issue better. 

1.    In Virginia depending on your conviction you re-register in VA every 90 days, every 180 days or once per year. Now if you have ever had a failure-to-register conviction you actually must re-register every 30 days. Less than 17% of the VSP Registry re-registers once per year so that means more than 83% are multiple times per year and because it’s based on # of days it’s never the same month or time of month so “remembering” when you are due next isn’t so easy. 

2.   When RSO’s originally register they submit to be photographed so their original photograph date should be the basis for the 2 year renewal even though a re-registration may never fall on that date again (for the 90 and 180 day folks), right? No. 

Per § 46.2-330. (changes were made in 2008) section F The VA-DMV shall electronically transmit application information, including photographs, to the Department of State Police for an Registered Sex Offender. 

What does this mean? 

Well as my husband found out October 15, 2013 when he went to the VSP for his annual re-registration and to submit to his VSP 2 year photo they refused to take his photo even though it was time. Why did they refuse? Because when he had renewed his VA-DMV drivers license back in July (because it’s only valid for 5 years as an RSO instead of the standard 8 years) the VSP took his new VA-DMV photo and posted that on the VSP Registry and recalculated his next photo due date as an arbitrary day in July 2015. That meant in 2015 my husband would have to take a trip to the VSP twice, once in July for his photo and then again in October for his official re-registration. How was this better, smarter or cheaper? It's isn't. 2 separate VSP employees would have to give my husband time in 2015 to comply with VA law and then two other VSP employees would have to enter that data into the VSP Registry database. at two separate times Only because I raised holy-hell did my husbands photo get reposted in October 2013 to sync his due dates back up so that only one visit to the VSP would be required in 2015 and then again in 2017, 2019 and so on. BUT almost every other RSO in VA has had their VSP photograph date moved to an arbitrary time of the year when they last made a trip to the VA-DMV and it will happen again when they renew in 5 years. This means additional trips into the VSP, additional VSP employees dedicating their time and in the end more costs to the Commonwealth. 

This is why a letter prior to the photograph due date for Virginia’s RSO’s is necessary, because no one can actually know if the VSP is counting the last VSP photo or the last VA-DMV photo. 

So yesterday I called the VSP and I asked about the change in policy and the Lieutenant that I spoke to had no knowledge of the change but said they’d email me an answer.
 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Norfolk Virginia’s Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters Bans RSO Visitors Who are NOT Parents and for RSO Parents a Uniformed/Armed Escort is Required at all Times


* A clarification from the RSO parent who alerted me of this CHKD policy today:
·      The security escort for the RSO is required only to and from the patient’s room. 
·      You (the RSO) cannot leave the room for any reason.
·      You (the RSO) must call security for an escort to the restroom (if there isn’t one in the room), to go to the cafeteria, chapel, store or to go outside/leave.
·      It can take 30 to 45 minutes for them to arrive at the room, so call early. 


Original Post:

I’ve just learned that being a Registered Sex Offender in Virginia with a sick child who needs specialized hospitalization is another humiliating and punitive road to walk. 

I sent this email early today: 


Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters, 

I just checked the CHKD website for a visitation policy and found nothing. 

The reason I was looking because I've just learned that CHKD bans anyone listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry from visiting patients unless they are the parent of the patient.

So that means no grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings or cousins can visit.  


I was also advised any parent who is listed on the VSP SO Registry MUST be escorted (by either security guards or armed police) everywhere they go including their own child's room AND they are NOT permitted to stay overnight with their sick child like most parents. 

            1. I would like to know if this information is true.
            2. If so, how long has it been CHKD's policy?
            3. Is the policy in writing anywhere? If so please send me a copy?
            4. Why is there no visitation policy section on the CHKD website?
            5. AND why does nothing come up when I search the website for the term sex offender?
            6. What is CHKD's policy when a patient (a juvenile) is listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry? Are they too escorted/watched constantly by an armed guard?  

Please advise. 
 
Mary Davye Devoy

So I began to wonder about the other Children’s Hospitals in the Commonwealth. 
 
There are 3 additional Children’s hospitals in Virginia they are:
·        Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
·        UVA Children’s Hospital
·        Inova Children’s Hospital 
 
Of these 3 websites only Inova's site has a page for visiting patients where it states that all visitors must register with security to obtain a visitors badge, but no mention of any policies for RSO parents or patients. 
 
Why am I posting about this?
 
Because when your child, grandchild, step-child or sibling is so sick they need to be hospitalized the level of stress and panic is already so high that I don’t want any of you to then come face-to-face with hospital security announcing you are a Registered Sex Offender and either mandating you have a security escort follow you everywhere within the hospital OR worse telling you, you are not permitted in the hospital at all. I know that many of you (especially the female RSO’s) are single parents or are grandparents raising their grandchildren. 
 
You know you are an RSO, but having that become a public spectacle OR to prevent you from being with your sick child as other parents and guardians are permitted to do is just cruel and I at least wanted to make these policies known for those of you who may encounter them in the future. 
 
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed or attempted murder? No.
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed child abuse? No.
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed domestic abuse? No.
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed assault/battery? No.
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed a drug offense? No.
Do Virginia’s Children’s hospitals check if a visitor has committed a gun offense? No. 
....and the list goes on.
 
Why? Because there is no public Registry for anything other than Sex Offenses for the Hospital security desks to check. 
 
And yet the recidivism rate for these other crimes (except murder) is 2, 3, 4 and 5 times that of sex offenses. 
 
This Children’s Hospital policy is based on zero facts, just like the majority of laws that have been passed by the Virginia Legislature directed at RSO’s under the guise of public safety. 

Being an RSO is supposed to be an administrative act, not a punitive one otherwise it’s unconstitutional.

Banning relatives who are listed on the VSP Registry from visiting a sick or perhaps dying child, is punitive.

Mandating a uniformed/armed guard follow the parent of a sick or perhaps dying child everywhere within the hospital for everyone to stare at, is punitive.

Mary Davye Devoy
 
 


 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Virginia Registered Sex Offenders: Petitions for Relief from Registration or Re-registration, Removal and Authorization to be on School Property and to Attend School-Sponsored Events


One category in the “most asked questions” that I receive from readers/followers/supporters is based around the 3 kinds of Court Petitions mandated by Virginia law for Registered Sex Offenders.  

·         Petition for Authorization to be on School Property and to Attend ANY School-Sponsored Event (on or off school property) for those on the Virginia State Police SO Registry:
·         Petition for Relief from Registration or Re-registration on the Virginia State Police SO Registry:
·         Petition for Removal of Name and Information for Non-Violent Offenders from the Virginia State Police SO Registry:

The two most asked questions are:
  1. Can you recommend an attorney for a court petition?
  2. What kind of attorney do I hire to?
            My answers are:
    1. I do not recommend attorneys but whom ever you do hire should have had at least one successful petition before you, if they don’t I suggest you keep looking.
    2. Per my State Delegate you want a Criminal Attorney for all 3 of these court petitions.
Then the two most common follow up questions are:
  1. How long will the process take?
  2. How much will it cost?
            My answers are:
    1. I’ve heard the 3 processes vary but you should expect 6-18 months.
    2. The 3 processes vary. The School Petition is the least expensive $900-$1,600. The other two petitions are much more expensive because of the required therapist’s evaluations and court testimony, expect $3,000- $6,000. 
I hope this helps those of you who have been wondering about one of these petitions but hadn’t emailed me yet to ask. 

Mary Davye Devoy

Saturday, July 15, 2017

List of Candidates for Virginia House Elections on November 7, 2017

Chart 1 of 3

The Virginia Department of Elections has posted the Candidate List for the 100 Virginia House seats that are up for reelection on November 7, 2017 and the deadline to register to vote in November is October 16, 2017. 

Virginia House Candidates:

Virginia Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General Candidates:

 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Restoring Integrity to Virginia Sex Offender Registry Blog Turned 4 Years Old with More than 278,299 Page Views!


I completely missed the 4th anniversary of this blog a week and a half ago back on July 1st. 

Four years ago I began this blog with a post that summarized my first 5 years of advocacy in Virginia. 

  1. In the first year (July 1, 2013 to June 30 2014 - 259 posts) this blogs page-views totaled 30,500.
  • For an average of 2,541 views per month.
  1. In the second year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015- 269 posts) the blogs page-views totaled 92,036. For 61,536 additional page views in those 12 months.
  • For an average of  5,128 views per month 
  1. In the third year (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 - 266 posts) the blogs page-views reached 177,069. For 85,033 additional page views in the last 12 months.
  • For an average of  7,086 views per month 
  1. And now from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 (137 posts) the total blog page-views reached 278,299. That’s 101,230 new views in the last 12 months.
  • For an average of  8,435 views per month 

I’m so pleased with the growth of visitors in the last 4 years. Not only RSO’s and their loved ones  from across the U.S. visit this website but State and Federal Legislators, Victims Advocates, Researchers, Therapists, members of the media and students follow my posts, pages and email me  looking for answers and data. 

Every year the blog visits have increased and that tells me this site is considered a reliable go-to for the latest information on these issues. 

In just the first 10 days of July 2017 there have been an additional 3,100 page views which is an increase from last July so the public interest continues even though the number of posts I’ve done in the last year have dropped significantly, it’s because I “tweet” now. 

Over the last 9 years I’ve learned a lot being the lone voice of reason in rooms filled with emotion, vengeance, false information and even hate. I had to start over when the participation of the 501c4 didn’t work out and I faced a lot of disappointment, failure and even undeserved attacks by elected officials. But I have never given up.  I’ve taken time to reevaluate my goals, the barriers that exist and new tactics to achieve those goals. 

I would not take on a fight that I don’t believe will end with a win.  

Reform will happen here in Virginia but it will take time and it should take time. Laws that are rushed through without thorough consideration are always riddled with unintended consequences and collateral damage, that’s what happened with the creation of Americas Sex Offender Registries 20+ years ago. 

It’s been a hard 9 years but I’m not complaining because the goal of reforming Virginia laws and the Virginia Sex Offender Registry to reflect 20+ years of research and proven policies instead of knee-jerk emotion is so much bigger than me and it’s bigger than the underserved shame my family bears. 

I’ve heard your stories, I know the barriers and the abuses that VA’s RSO’s and their loved-ones face every day in the Commonwealth and I know the stress of complying with the ever changing rules and regulations under the threat of felony that the VSP proved at this years GA session are purposefully not shared with those who need to be aware of the change in law.  

It’s wrong.  

It’s cruel.  

It’s not administrative, it’s 100% punitive.  

Much of it is unconstitutional. 

And…………..NONE of it is data-driven and the data that does exist has concluded these laws and the stigma does more harm than good and those in authority continue to willfully ignore it. 

I may not be the best spokesperson and I’m learning everyday as I go but until the ACLU of Virginia finally finds the courage (and the time) to stand up for Registered Sex Offenders and their loved ones rights, I will carry the flag because Virginia deserves a Smarter Registry. 

Thank you all for following this blog, my advocacy and taking action when Action Items are posted.
 
Mary Davye Devoy

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Virginia Deserves a Smarter Sex Offender Registry: 12 Legislative Steps to Get Us There


Legislative Goal #1 -
Remove the Employer/Company Name AND the Street Address from the Online VSP Sex Offender Registry goo.gl/g65RVk 

Legislative Goal #2 -
VA Code v. VSP Hours of Operation for RSO’s to Comply is at Odds goo.gl/64BAk6

Legislative Goal #3 -
Implement a 4 Tier/Level Risk-Based Classification System goo.gl/qYqGRv 

Legislative Goal #4 –
Move Misdemeanor/Non-Violent & Juveniles RSO’s to a Private Registry AND Automatically Remove Them Both After a Reasonable Time-frame of Perfect Compliance goo.gl/DeeWOa 

Legislative Goal #5 –
Determine if the Violent Registered Sex Offenders Can OR Can NOT worship in Virginia and if they CAN’T, Add an Exemption to Virginia Code for Places of Worship goo.gl/P3jgUc 

Legislative Goal #6 –
Repeal Virginia’s Myth-Based, Hate-Driven Residency Restriction Statute goo.gl/LMWgh7 

Legislative Goal #7 –
Establish a Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) goo.gl/DTNBbT

Legislative Goal #8 –
Eliminate the USPS Certified letters for VSP Re-Registration and Implement a Repeating/Rotating Schedule goo.gl/kCJhI2

Legislative Goal #9 –
Modernize the Virginia State Police Registration Process and Track/Share the Data that the VSP gathers every year goo.gl/M6oM98 

Legislative Goal #10 –
Discern Teen-to-Teen Image Creation and Sharing (Sexting) in VA Code from REAL Child Pornography  goo.gl/oDhGuC 

Legislative Goal #11 –
Repeal OR Amend Virginia’s 21-Day (to Recant) Rule goo.gl/U5YyW2 

Legislative Goal #12 –
Add Sexual Misdemeanor Convictions to Virginia’s Writs of Actual Innocence goo.gl/C6JPu0 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New Book: Caught in the Web of the Criminal Justice System: Autism, Developmental Disabilities and Sex Offenses by Lawrence A. Dubin and Emily Horowitz


Happy 4th of July everyone. 

I just finished my 63rd book on Sexual Violence, Sex Offenders, Registries, Civil Commitment of SVP’s, Teen Sexting, Sex Crimes/the Media and Fear-mongering. 

Today’s book was on Autistic people being prosecuted, convicted, imprisoned and labeled “Sex Offenders” the second book I’ve read on this topic BUT this book covers so much more than just the autistic side.

It's the current #13 slot of my Top 20 Recommending Reading and I've recommended it to every Virginia Delegate and Senator. 

Caught in the Web of the Criminal Justice System: Autism, Developmental Disabilities and Sex Offenses by Lawrence A. Dubin and Emily Horowitz

One of the big difference and pluses with this book is that every chapter is authored by someone different.

The foreword is written by a former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted hundreds if not thousands of Child Pornography possessors, viewers and producers.

There are chapters by Criminal Defense Attorneys, Licensed Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, Professors of Special Education, a former Staff Attorney with the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Physician of Sexual Behaviors/Disorders, Professors of Social Welfare, Professors of Law , Professors of Criminal Justice and others.

This combination of stakeholders really makes a well-rounded read.

There is plenty of documentation and data to support every chapter for those naysayers.

And for those who have advocated for Mandatory Minimums for Child Pornography possession and viewing claiming those viewers will 100% become hands-on offenders down the road by referencing the unethical “Butner Study”, Chapter 7 debunks all the false claims and fear-mongering that the Butner Study created years ago and the PROTECT Act 2003 (Sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch and then Congressman Mike Pence) incorrectly used as rationale for harsher laws and sentences.
 
Mary Devoy