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Legislative Goals for a Smarter Registry in Virginia


This page was last revised on April 21, 2017

We all know there are numerous issues with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, restrictions and regulations for RSO’s and Virginia’s laws for “sex” crimes. 


Some of the problems can ONLY be fixed by taking a Court challenge, which requires money and many years. 


BUT a large number of the current issues can be rectified through legislation.  


Below you will find a revised list for my goals that could be accomplished through legislation that I am working towards in Virginia. 


You may agree with all of them, some of them or none of them. That’s your right. 


But if there are goals below that you agree with, then you should speak up and ask your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator to be a Patron at the next Virginia General Assembly session. Sessions begin the second Wednesday of every January so you should make your requests between May and early-November. 


Don’t ask a Virginia Legislator to sponsor more than 2 per year and if they decline ask them why. If their concern can be addressed, address it if not then pick a different goal and ask them a few months later to sponsor that new proposal and if they decline, again ask them why. Then select another goal and ask them again in 2+ months to sponsor the Bill, persistence pays off! You are their constituent, you are a tax-payer and hopefully a voter, they need to listen to your concerns and proposals. 


Mary Devoy

 


Goal #1:


Virginia should remove at a minimum the Employer/Company Name of RSO's from the online Virginia State Police (VSP) Registry. The street address of the employer should also be removed from the online VSP Registry. 

Today Virginia Businesses are being punished/ shamed by customers, clients, vendors and neighboring businesses for hiring an RSO when they are participating in the successful re-entry of ex-offenders in Virginia. Most employers will not hire otherwise qualified individuals knowing that their company name will be posted on the VSP Registry. They do NOT want to be bothered with the criticism, shame, intimidation, harassment and occasional threats that follow. 

If the Employer/Company name and the street address were removed for the Internet nothing would change when it comes to the registration requirements, restrictions and VSP checks on the Offenders.
·         The RSO’s would continue to register ALL their employer information with the Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer).
·         The Virginia State Police (and their VA-DOC Probation Officer) would still confirm that their place of employment does not violate any State Law AND they would still confirm that the RSO does actually work there.  

Virginia is one of only 6 States that publicly posts an RSO’s employer AND full address. 

29 states do not publicly post ANY employer information, 5 of those States are certified Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant.  

10 States post just the address, 8 of those are AWA compliant.  

5 States post the city, county and/or zip code & 3 of those comply with AWA.  

In September 2013 Texas and in 2012 Kansas both removed ALL employment information from their public registries.  

Why? Because those 44 States & Congress recognize employment as a top priority in an ex-offender's successful reentry back into our communities. Without employment the rules of probation would be broken, court fines and restitution would not be paid and stable housing would be impossible. 

A homeless RSO is an untraceable RSO, & that makes registration irrelevant. 

Past Legislation attempting to accomplish this:
Ø       2010- SB635 –Sen. Marsden     
-        (Passed the Virginia Senate 40-0 to then be stopped in a House Militia, Police and Safety Sub-Committee of 6, Virginia State Police Legislative Liaison openly opposed it.)
Ø       2012- HB413 Del. Watts
-        (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, Virginia State Police Legislative Liaison openly opposed it.)
Ø       2016- SB11 –Sen. Howell
-        (Passed the Virginia Senate 22-17 to then be stopped in House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 12)
 
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Goal #2:

Virginia needs to correct 2 known Legislative errors (procedural changes) so compliance is actually attainable.

Error/Problem #1:  
Per § 9.1-903. Virginia’s RSO’s have 3 days (not 3 business days) to register in-person (not electronically or over the phone) ANY changes (additions or deletions) with the mandated information at a VSP Locations their hours are Mon-Fri 8:30AM-4PM (no evenings, no weekends, no holidays). 

Currently ANY three-day weekend (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) and the 2 annual four-day weekends (Lee-Jackson/Martin Luther King Jr. Day OR Thanksgiving Day/Black Friday) becomes a possible failure-to-register/Class 6 Felony. 
 
Solutions for Error #1:
Chose one
A-           Revise the statute to “3 business days
B-           Revise the statute to “5 days
            Aligning with the VSP hours of operation. 
Error/Problem #2:  
Per § 9.1-903. Virginia’s RSO’s have 30 minutes to register in-person (not electronically or over the phone) ANY changes (additions or deletions) with ALL email addresses and instant messaging identifications. 
Most Virginians live 1+ hours from the nearest VSP Location how can our RSO’s be expected to comply with the 30 minute statute? 
Solutions for Error #2:
Chose one
A-           The VSP creates a secure (password protected) electronic system, available 24 hours a day that sends an immediate receipt to the offender confirming the information has been received by the VSP
B-           Revise the statute to “3 business days
C-            Revise the statute to “5 days
            Aligning with the VSP hours of operation.

* To compare how accessible the Virginia State Police is for the VCheck Firearm Seller Background checks versus hours of accessibility for our 22,000+ Registered Sex Offenders to re-register and update changes in data go here http://goo.gl/8cQAgK . 

Past Legislation attempting to fix one or both of these issues: 
I- To Fix the unobtainable mandate of “3 days” and “30 minutes”:
Ø      2011- HB1628–Del. Watts
-       (Amended in House Militia, Police and Safety, Virginia State Police Legislative Liaison openly opposed it. Left to die in Appropriations)
Ø      2012- HB416–Del. Watts  
-       (“Laid on the table” instead of voting by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Sub-Committee of 8, Virginia State Police Legislative Liaison openly opposed it.)

II- To Fix the unobtainable mandate of “30 minutes” AND stating that usernames and passwords are NOT required to be registered:
Ø      2016-  SB243–Sen. Petersen
-       (Failed to Report 6-9, in Senate Courts of Justice) 

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Goal #3: 

Virginia needs to implement a 4-Tier/Level Risk-Based Classification System. 

Virginia currently has a meaningless 2-Group Conviction-Based Classification System, Non-Violent or Violent and approximately 83% of the VSP Registry falls into the Violent category. 

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, everyone is managed and monitored the same. Other States have made the switch from conviction to risk, so it can be done. 

Only 8 States mandate lifetime registration for juveniles as a Sex Offender with no opportunity to ever be removed and sadly Virginia is one of them. 

7 States allow their juveniles to automatically be removed from their registries at age 17, age 21, age 25 or on their 10th year/end of jurisdiction which ever comes first and 2 of those States are Federal AWA/SORNA compliant. 

4 Tiers/Levels would assist the public in deciphering who is a threat and who really isn’t; today approximately 83% of the Registry are lumped together when they actually vary greatly. 

Proposed System:
1.      Tier/Level 1 would be the lowest-risk to reoffend
-       This group would  automatically include the misdemeanor offenses
-       This group would  automatically include all the juveniles
-       This group could be on a private, authority only Registry, NOT on the Internet.
-       This group would automatically be removed after 10 years of perfect compliance, instead of petitioning the court.
-       For the juveniles they could be automatically removed on their 21st or 25th birthday.
2.     Tier/Level 2 would be a moderate-risk to reoffend
-       This group would be on the Internet Registry
-       This group would be allowed to petition the court for removal after 15 or 20 years of perfect compliance.
3.     Tier/Level 3 would be the highest-risk to reoffend, but were never civilly committed as an SVP
-       This group would be on the Internet Registry
-       This group would be registered for Life
4.     Tier/Level 4 would be those who were civilly committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation (VCBR), either previously or currently.
-       This group would be on the Internet Registry
-       This group would be registered for Life 

Currently Virginia does not decipher who was previously civilly committed as an SVP, this system would do that. 

Virginia civilly commits our SVP’s based on risk, but yet we currently classify/categorize our RSO’s based on their conviction; Virginia should be consistent and base everything on RISK!
 

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Goal #4:

Until Virginia implements a 4-Level/Tier Risk-Based Classification System (Goal #3) two groups of RSO’s could have reforms implemented NOW, the Juvenile RSO’s and the Non-Violent RSO’s. 

Proposals for Juveniles:
  1. Juveniles would be automatically removed from the VSP Registry on their 25th birthday if they have perfect compliance. This change would need to be applied to past and present juvenile RSO’s, not just in the future.
  2. Juveniles would be given the ability to petition the court after 10 years of perfect compliance (no failures-to-register, no new convictions) for removal from the VSP Registry. Today these juveniles are “lifers” in Virginia with NO opportunity to petition for removal. This change would need to be applied to past and present juvenile RSO’s, not just in the future.
  3. Juveniles who have a failure-to-register  OR additional convictions that were NOT sexual be given the ability to petition the court once 10 years has past since their last conviction. 
Proposals for Misdemeanor/Non-Violent RSO’s:
  1. Before the 2006 and 2008 Virginia General Assemblies met there were misdemeanors offenses that became felony offenses. The Virginia State Police took those two Legislative changes as intended to be retroactive; they increased 2,000+ Non-Violent Sex Offenders to Violent Sex Offenders. This meant those Non-Violent Offenders who did nothing wrong, lost their ability to petition the court becoming “lifers” plus their re-registrations went from once per year to every 90 days. Return all formerly Non-Violent Offenders to their original classification if they have not been convicted of a new sexual offense.
  2. Before the 2008 Virginia General Assembly met all Non-Violent Sex Offenders could petition the court after 10 years, and then in 2008 it retroactively increased to 15 years. Amend § 9.1-910. back to 10 years, this change would need to be applied to past and present juvenile RSO’s, not just in the future.
  3. Non-Violent Sex Offenders would automatically be removed from the VSP Registry after they’ve completed their mandatory time (currently 15 years) if they have perfect compliance. Amend § 9.1-910. to remove the requirement for a court petition. 
Proposal to Create an Authority (VSP Only) Registry that is NOT Online (on the Internet).
  1. Take ALL the Juveniles and ALL the Non-Violent RSO’s from the Online/Public Registry and Place then onto the new “Private” Registry.

The Misdemeanor and Juvenile RSO’s would still abide by all the restrictions, regulations and mandates during their time on the Private Registry or face a felony. 

The Virginia State Police would still visit their residences and confirm their employment does not violate any laws. 

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. 

Five states (Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nebraska, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) do NOT require ANY registration for juveniles. 

22 States have Private Registries, 20 of which place their Juveniles on them and 7 of those States are Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA compliant. 

Only 8 States mandate lifetime registration for juveniles as a Sex Offender with no opportunity to ever be removed and sadly Virginia is one of them. 

AWA/SORNA does NOT require public registration for misdemeanor offenses OR for juveniles. 

To read the full 50 State list go to http:// goo.gl/VcZ7Dv

If your Delegate and/or Senator are in the below list you should know that they have previously (and may still) believe mandating lifetime, public registration for Juveniles as “Violent Sex Offenders”  is a great idea even though I’ve been sharing studies and reports to the contrary with them for years. The below VA Legislators have willfully ignored the empirical evidence and have chosen to not just fan the flames of fear and hate but to destroy young lives before they have had a chance to even begin. Know your audience!
·         2011 - SB1409 Patroned by Senator Bill Stanley
·         2012 - SB127 Patroned by Senator Bill Stanley and Senator Tommy Norment
·         2012 - SB412   Patroned by Senator Tommy Norment
·         2012 - HB624 Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo retiring at the end of 2017, Delegate Gordon Helsel, Delegate John O'Bannon and Delegate David Ramadan retired
·         2012 - HB753 Patroned by Delegate Ben Cline
·         2014 - HB523 Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo retiring at the end of 2017
 
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Goal #5:

Determine if the Violent Registered Sex Offenders (83% of the current VSP Registry) Can OR Can NOT worship in Virginia if there is a daycare and/or school on the property of the house of worship. 

The two Virginia Statutes in question are:
·         § 18.2-370.5. - Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property
·         § 18.2-370.2. - Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children on School and Daycare Property 

I have been trying to get a straight answer to this inquiry for years, to no avail.
-         Post from April 22, 2016                           http://goo.gl/Zu1p9e
-         Post/Action Item from May 25, 2016     http://goo.gl/LfbSEU
-         Action Item from June 7, 2016                http://goo.gl/y7tfbq 

Step One - Get the Virginia Attorney Generals Office to answer an AG Opinion on this matter. An AG Opinion can be submitted by elected public officials including any VA Delegate or Senator, by the VA Governor or the VA Secretary of Public Safety to list a few. 

If the AG Opinion rules that Violent RSO’s are NOT committing a crime by attending church, church-sponsored activities, a wedding, a funeral, their child’s baptism or other activities like AA meetings, parenting classes or marriage counseling on church property then we’re done. 

If the AG Opinion rules that a crime IS being committed by being on church property because of a daycare and or school then a fix needs to be made. 

Step Two - Ask your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator to Patron/Sponsor a Bill that adds an exemption for all places of worship (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, meeting houses, etc) should be added to both § 18.2-370.5. and § 18.2-370.2. 

No Virginians Freedom to Worship should be denied (or be a crime) in the Commonwealth! 

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Goal #6:

Repeal Virginia’s Myth-Based, Hate-Driven Residency Restriction Statute. 

Virginia has Residency restrictions for some Registered Sex Offenders § 18.2-370.3. who can not live within 500 feet of a public school, licensed day-care center or public park that shares a border with a school and is used for school activities.   

When an RSO is looking for a rental property or a home to buy they are responsible for knowing if their future residence is more than 500ft circumference (as the crow flies) from a school, licensed day-care facility or Public Park that shares a border with a school. The state offers no assistance by providing them with a map of locations that are off-limits or to check before they sign a lease or close on a home purchase. But the state will be sure to file charges against an RSO who is included in the residency restrictions and has unknowingly violated the law. 

Residency restrictions have been studied for the last 15 years; they are completely based on myth, fear and hate.  


All the literature on residency restrictions points to the same conclusion: restricting where sex offenders can live doesn’t appear to increase public safety one iota. It may decrease it, however, because the "unintended consequences of residence restrictions include transience, homelessness, instability, and other obstacles to community reentry." Since "unemployment, unstable housing, and lack of support are associated with increased criminal recidivism," and housing restrictions lead to all three, they're a bad idea, Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers argues (ATSA).  

Virginia lawmakers who continue to propose to expand Virginia’s Residency Restrictions need to read the research that has been previously distributed and stop fanning the flames of hysteria when it comes to Registered Sex Offenders.  
 
Past Bills by Virginia Legislators to EXPAND Residency Restrictions or Loitering, to redefine “School Property” and to include ALL School-Sponsored Events even if they are at a Public Venue on Private Property:
I- Residency:
·         2010 -HB1004 Patroned by Delegate Clay Athey now a VA judge, Delegate Dave Albo retiring at end of 2017 and Senator Jill Vogel - Did NOT become law
·         2011 - HB1823 Patroned by Delegate Glenn Oder retired- Did NOT become law
·         2015 -HB1505 Patroned by Delegate Dave Albo retiring at end of 2017- Did NOT become law
II- Residing in Assisted Living Facilities:
·         2010 - HB967 Patroned by Delegate Chris Peace (Bill was amended in Committee to prohibit RSO’s, then the amendment was later removed)
III- Residency AND Loitering:
·         2017 - SB1072 Patroned by Senator Creigh Deeds Was requested by the Virginia State Police
·         2017 - HB1485 Patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Delegate Israel O’Quinn  Was requested by the Virginia State Police
IV- Loitering:
·         2011 - HB1523 Patroned by Delegate Steve Landes - Did NOT become law
·         2010 - HB919 Patroned by Delegate Rob Bell - Did NOT become law
·         2013 - SB1152 Patroned by Senator Ryan McDougle - Did NOT become law
V- Expanding the Definition of School Property OR School-Sponsored Events onto Private Property, So This Becomes a “Loitering” Issue:
·         2011HB2066 Patroned by Delegate Rob Bell, Delegate Steve Landes, Delegate Clifford Athey now a VA judge, Delegate Dickie Bell, Delegate William Cleaveland retired, Delegate Scott Garrett, Delegate Gregory Habeeb, Delegate Salvatore Iaquinto retired, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Delegate Donald Merricks retired, Delegate Jackson Miller, Delegate Roxann Robinson, Delegate Edward Scott retired, Delegate Beverly Sherwood retired, Delegate Ronald Villanueva and Delegate Tony Wilt
·         2011 SB1185 Patroned by Senator Tommy Norment
 
 
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Goal #7: 

Virginia should establish a Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB). 

Many States have SOMB’s, they draft and propose Sex Offender Legislation, they study what does and does not work when it comes to Registered Sex Offender (RSO) regulations, restrictions and mandates.  

The SOMB could have monthly or quarterly public meetings where citizens, offenders, experts and victims are heard on issues of employment, housing, resources, registration, civil commitment, etc. They would also know about all recent State and Federal court rulings and pending cases. 

An SOMB would know what is required by the Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA instead of guessing as we’ve seen happen during almost every Virginia General Assembly in the last 10+ years. The SOMB would know what reports, studies and experts in the field across the country are finding and recommending. These recommendations would need to be adhered to by the lawmakers, eliminating the current and future feel-good laws that serve no purpose. 

As of October 2016 there were 22,588 RSO’s in Virginia, this population increases approximately by 79 people every month 

In 2008 1 out of every 207 adult male in VA was an RSO and in 2016 it had grown to 1 out of every 140. This is a population of that will continue to grow and needs to have a dedicated group that is knowledgeable of evidence-based practices in the RSO field. 

The SOMB could also make recommendation to the Virginia State Police who owns the VSP Registry and it’s data and monitors those RSO’s who are no longer under VA-DOC Probation. 


The SOMB would know all the costs of the VSP Sex Offender Registry, the breakdown of RSO’s by sex, race, age (including juveniles) and convictions. 

Plus they'd know the total recidivism rate of Virginia’s RSO’s categorized by:
·                Probation violations and what they were
·                Failures to register and what they were
·                A new legal RSO restriction that State applied retroactively but the RSO was never advised of and what they were
·                A new crime, not sexual and what they were
·                A new sex crime and what they were


The SOMB would know all the costs of the VSP Sex Offender Registry, the breakdown of RSO’s by sex, race, age (including juveniles) and conviction plus the recidivism rate of Virginias RSO’s by new sex crime, failure to register and technicality. All of this data (except for costs) is currently unavailable and or not tracked.

Anytime a State Commission, like the Virginia State Crime Commission, Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission or JLARC or a Governor’s Taskforce were to study anything to do with Sex Offender, the VSP Registry, civil commitment or sex crime related they could utilize the SOMB’s archives and experience. 

The SOMB web-site would also become a great resource for citizens and the minutes from their meetings would be posted so those who could not travel to attend could still be apprised of the discussions and decisions. 

SOMB’s usually consist of:
·               A Commonwealth’s Attorney
·               A Public Defender
·               A District Judge
·               A Juvenile Judge
·               A member of the Department of Corrections
·               A member of the Department of Probation
·               A member of the Department of Juvenile Justice
·               A member of the State Police
·               A State Delegate
·               A State Senator
·               A Criminal Justice Professor
·               2 licensed Mental Health Specialists in Sexual Abuse and Sex Offender Treatment
·               A member of a Re-entry Group
·               A minster of a Faith Based Group
·               A member of a Civil Liberties Organization
·               A member of a Restorative Justice Organization
·               A member of a Victims Advocacy Group
·               A Registered Sex Offender or a family member of an RSO 

If a Virginia Legislator drafted a Bill directed towards “Sex Offenders” or "SVP's" (who are Civilly Committed at the VCBR) they'd submit the proposal to the SOMB to be vetted prior to a Legislative session. 

Having a SOMB in place would most likely reduce the excessive number of Bills that are regularly submitted at the annual VA G.A. sessions that have been based on fear instead of on facts. 

A SOMB would reign in those Virginia Legislators who willfully ignore the empirical evidence but routinely target RSO’s to look tough on “Sexual Predators”, using them as both a stepping-stone and a punching-bag for their own personal gain. 

SOMB's take the Politics Out of Policy! 

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Goal #8: 

Eliminate the USPS Certified letters for VSP Re-Registration and move to a Repeating/Rotating Schedule based on the RSO’s DOB and last name. 

In 2016 postage for Virginia State Police Sex Offender re-registration letters cost $10.06 per letter, which totaled $589,153.00 for JUST the postage onto 58,564 letters.  

I took the data from my 11 years of VSP Registry costs and figured an estimated amount spent on postage alone for these letters from 2005 to 2016 and my conservative estimate is $8.2 Million. Wow! A waste of money that for some reason the Virginia State Police (VSP) insists on spending because for more than 4 years they’ve squashed/ignored my proposal to switch to a rotating system. 

Without their certified letter in-hand the VSP and local police/sheriff’s will NOT allow Registered Sex Offenders to re-register. 

There are States that set the re-registration months for their RSO’s based on their date-of-birth, their last name and how often they must register. Then the RSO knows year-in-and-year-out when their re-registration is due and it never changes. Whereas in Virginia it’s every 120, 90 or 30 days which means the due dates are NEVER the same. 

For the last 8 years there have been numerous examples of re-registration letters never arriving at their destination (for a myriad of reasons beyond the recipient’s control) or arriving with less than 2 days to comply that have been posted on this blog. Here are just a few http://goo.gl/v3CCBx , http://goo.gl/5KDbVY , http://goo.gl/jtfmIk . Plus, back in 2010 or 2011 the Virginia State Police arbitrarily REMOVED the next re-registration date from every RSO’s VSP online posting so RSO’s can no longer look up when to expect their next letter.  

Virginia could easily switch to a rotating re-registration system with preset re-registration dates. 

Proposed System:
1.    Those with last names beginning with A-L register from the 1st to the 15th of the month.
2.   Those with last names beginning with M-Z register from the 16th to the last day of the month.
3.   The list would be posted on the VSP website.
4.   The list would be handed out during VSP Residency Checks and In-Barrack Re-registrations for 6 to 9 months notifying all RSO’s that re-registration letters will stop going out and the first batch of handouts would have the start date of no more letters being mailed out.
5.   Copies of the list would be stacked on the counter at every VSP Location.
6.   And the next re-registration due date for all RSO’s would be put back on every Offenders VSP On-line Posting.
7.   Some Offenders might re-register back-to back months when it first starts and some may go a bit longer than 6 or 12 months but it will all even out after the first year.
8.  This would save the Commonwealth more than half a million dollars (the postage alone) per year. 


Annual Re-registrations Birth Month

Reporting Month

January

January

February

February

March

March

April

April

May

May

June

June

July

July

August

August

September

September

October

October

November

November

December

December


Semi-Annual Re-registrations Birth Month

Reporting Months

January

January and July

February

February and August

March

March and September

April

April and October

May

May and November

June

June and December

July

January and July

August

February and August

September

March and September

October

April and October

November

May and November

December

June and December


Quarterly Re-registrations Birth Month

Reporting Months

January

January, April, July, and October

February

February, May, August, and November

March

March, June, September, and December

April

January, April, July, and October

May

February, May, August, and November

June

March, June, September, and December

July

January, April, July, and October

August

February, May, August, and November

September

March, June, September, and December

October

January, April, July, and October

November

February, May, August, and November

December

March, June, September, and December


For the RSO’s who must re-register every 30 days, just divide them up by last names A-L register from the 1st to the 15th of the month and M-Z register from the 16th to the last day of the month and then they register every month during that time frame. 

Steps Needed to get Virginia to a Rotating System:
1.    The current 30, 90, 180 day and once a year verbiage in Virginia Code § 9.1-904. would need to be removed and the scheduled months based on an RSO’s classification/conviction and their DOB inserted into the code.
2.   Any disabled, elderly or non-driving RSO’s should be able to request that some of their re-registration letters in the year to be mailed or emailed directly to them so that they can return the paperwork (when no photograph is due) via USPS based. Something allowing for non-mobile RSO’s to file through the US Postal Service needs to be added to the code.
3.   Also for the new photograph due dates the every 2 year verbiage in Virginia Code would need to be removed and one of the dedicated re-registration times selected and inserted into the code. Currently the VSP counts this due date as every 730 days even if a re-registration date is no where near it. If letters are no longer mailed out then the photo due date needs to be based on a DOB rotating schedule too.
4.   The Virginia State Police needs to return the ‘next registration due date’ onto every Registrant’s VSP Internet page. Making it more difficult for Virginia’s RSO to comply with their restrictions and regulations isn’t making our communities safer. 

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Goal #9:

It’s time for the Virginia State Police to modernize the registration process and the data entry for the VSP SO Registry, plus better communication with the RSO’s and track/share the data that THEY already gather.  

The RSO Population in Virginia grows by an average of 900 new people every year. As of November 2016 the RSO count for Virginia count was 22,588. But as of 2017 the Virginia State Police is stilling using the same methods and system (carbon-paper, inter-office mail for delayed data-entry and no electronic means of re-registration) for our RSO’s since the VSP Registry was established 22 years ago. 

Problems:
1.    RSO’s to who are looking for answers to questions that could result in a felony if they don’t act in a timely fashion can’t call the VSP SO Hotline (804) 674-2825 before 8:15AM or after 4:45PM on weekdays and they can NOT call at anytime on the weekend or holidays*.
2.   RSO’s who need to re-register (every 30, 90, 120 or 365 days - per law) or update data changes (new married name, residence, mailing address/PO Box, employment info, school enrollment, phone numbers, vehicle registrations and email/IM addresses –per law) are limited to the VSP location hours of 8:30AM to 4:00PM weekdays ONLY. Plus VSP location hours vary across the State; some are even more limited than the standard 8:30AM to 4:00PM.  

That totals 248 days out of 365 per year and 1,860 hours that the VSP is open for Registered Sex Offender to comply with Virginia Law.  

A VSP Trooper or VSP employee spends an average of 20 minutes with each RSO.  

Let’s go with a very conservative average of 2 visits to a VSP location per year for the RSO’s under VSP supervision and Probation to re-register and update changes in data.  

In 2016 that was 13,177 RSO’s and w/ 2 visits in a year that would be 26,354 visits at 20 minutes each 8,784 hours was needed to manage all the RSO’s but the VSP only allotted 1,860.  

3.   Registrations and all data changes are given by the RSO in-person to a VSP employee. The employee hand-writes all the information onto paper forms with carbon copies. If the VSP employee hears something incorrectly, has bad penmanship or doesn’t press hard enough errors/ typos will be entered into the VSP database by the third party who receives the paperwork at VSP headquarters days later.
4.   A copy of all re-registrations is no longer given to RSO as proof they met their legal obligation, this stopped in 2015. And that copy is extremely important because the burden of proof falls on the RSO. 

* To compare how accessible the Virginia State Police is for the VCheck Firearm Seller Background checks versus hours of accessibility for our 22,000+ Registered Sex Offenders to re-register and update changes in data go here http://goo.gl/8cQAgK .

I- Proposed Solutions:
1.      Expand the VSP SO Hotline (804) 674-2825 hours of operation. The VSP Headquarters on Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield, VA never closes, there are always employees inside.
·         8AM to 8PM Monday through Friday    (minus observed VSP holidays*)
·         10AM to 4PM on Saturdays                      (minus observed VSP holidays*)
·         12AM to 4PM on Sundays                         (minus observed VSP holidays*)
2.     Expand re-registrations hours at VSP locations for Registered Sex Offenders. These locations do not empty out of people after 4PM on weekdays or on weekends, there are employees inside. Staff a SO VSP employee at every VSP Location from:
·         8AM to 8PM Monday through Friday     (minus observed VSP holidays*)
·         8AM to 4PM on Saturdays                         (minus observed VSP holidays*)
·         11AM to 4PM on Sundays                          (minus observed VSP holidays*)
This would add 17.5 more hours of access every week for RSO’s to register, re-register and update changes in data. That works out to 910 more hours every year for a new total of 2,770 hours per year to access the VSP and comply with Virginia law.
3.     Eliminate all the carbon paperwork and mailing all updates to VSP Headquarters for data-entry days later, unless sent from a local police or sheriff’s office.
·         At every VSP location enter all data changes, new photographs and scan all thumbprints directly into the VSP database while the RSO confirm the changes are correct.
·         Then it updates then it updates on the Internet within an hour or at least the next 24 hours.
·         Give a copy of the new listing to every RSO as proof they complied with VA law in case there is a computer issue.
4.     Allow RSO’s to notify the VSP of email or Instant Message account changes through one of the following methods.
(i)   Via email to a dedicated VSP address that sends the RSO an automatic confirmation that the update has been received.
(ii)Create an online /electronic system (like VA Code says) that sends the RSO an automatic confirmation that the update has been received.
5.     Allow RSO’s to re-register or update any data changes through one of the following methods.
(i)   Through the VSP website with a secure password or their SSN.
·               They’d have blank VSP SP236 and SP236-A forms to download on the VSP website for the RSO’s to fill out and submit on/through the site.
·               That either gives the RSO a confirmation # (that would include the date and time) or sends an email confirmation with a copy of the submitted form.
(ii) Install SO Registry Data Kiosks (like an ATM) that could be installed outside VSP Locations and Local Police and Sheriffs locations under security lighting and cameras.
·               An iris scan or thumbprint scan (which is already in VSP database) could be used to authenticate identities.
·               A print-out of all changes made by the RSO would include a date time and stamp as proof they complied with Virginia law.
·               Once the new data is proofed by a VSP employee that new data would automatically updates online, no paperwork, no typos no interoffice mail.
·               If the machine is out-of-service there would need to be a back-up paper system for VSP employees inside the location to manage until the machine was fixed. RSO’s could NOT be turned away because VA Code specifies specific timeframes for re-registrations and data changes. 
II- Additional Proposals:
6.     The VSP needs to post their hours of operation on all their locations doors.
7.     The VSP needs to post their observed holidays on any of their locations doors.
8.    The VSP needs to post the hours of operation for each location on their website.
9.     The VSP needs to post the SO Hotline number and hours of operation on their website.
10.The VSP needs to post their observed holidays on their website.
11.  The VSP needs to have printed copies of the VSP SO Brochure on the counters for RSO’s to see and take or to ask questions about.
 
III- Data that the VSP gathers but can’t (or won’t) pull for FOIA’s OR include in their annual VSP Report:
i)        The number of  RSO’s categorized by race, sex and age, each year
ii)   The number of “Non-Violent”  and “Violent” VSP RSO’s, each year
iii)      The number of juveniles on the VSP Registry, each year
iv) The number of unemployed and self-employed (the residence and employment address are the same) RSO’s, each year
v)    The number of homeless RSO’s, each year
vi) The number of RSO’s categorized by conviction (statute) by State, Military, Federal, Native American Tribal and Foreign Country, each year
vii)    The number of RSO’s (not incarcerated) categorized by their re-registration timeframes. Every 30 days, every 90 days, every 120 days or annually, each year.
viii) The number of RSO’s are required to abide by § 18.2-370.3. Residency Restrictions, each year
ix)       The number of civilly committed SVP’s at the VCBR
x)    The number of previously civilly committed now living in communities
xi) The number of court petitions for “removal” from the VSP Registry AND the success OR failure rate, each year
xii)          The number of court petitions for “relief” of multiple re-registrations per year AND the success OR failure rate, each year
xiii) The number of failure-to-register convictions, each year
 
IV- Data that the VSP currently does NOT gather but that they should via their twice a year residential visits or the RSO in-person re-registrations
i)            The number of RSO’s diagnosed with Autism, each year
ii)   The number of RSO’s with physical disabilities (missing a limb, in a wheelchair, bed-bound, under 24-hour care, etc), each year
iii)      The number of RSO’s (not incarcerated) who are unable to drive OR are without a drivers license, each year
iv) The number of RSO’s who are US Veterans, each year 
 
* VSP holidays include:
·         The 4, 3-day holidays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day) per year.
·         The 2, 4-day holidays (Lee-Jackson/MLK weekend and Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend) per year
·         Plus the possibility that Christmas, New Years Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day could land on a Friday or Monday OR if they land on a Saturday or a Sunday then either that Friday or Monday will be taken as a holiday. That’s 4 more possible 3-day weekends, per year.

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Goal #10:
Discern Teen-to-Teen image creation and sharing (Sexting) in VA Code from Real Child Pornography.
 
Teenagers who willingly or knowingly send or exchange sexual or nude photos or videos with other teens do not pose a threat to society. If no threat, force, intimidation, extortion, mass on-line posting or emailing or account hacking has occurred between teenagers then no criminal charges should be filed.
 
How many juveniles have been arrested for Child Pornography in VA? The count for the last 15 years can be found here goo.gl/oDhGuC .
 
Consensual Teen Sexting has been and will be charged as a crime by Commonwealth’s Attorney across the Commonwealth until the Virginia Legislature takes the necessary steps.
 
To Virginia’s Child Pornography Statutes § 18.2-374 of Production Distribution/Dissemination, Solicitation and Possession……..
 
Proposed Changes:
1.      Add a 4- year Age-Gap allowance w/ a minimum age (a floor) of 12 or 13 years old.  This way age appropriate relationships don’t get swept up as a criminal act. If preferred a maximum age of 19 or 20 years old could be included for those who believe a 17 and 21 year old shouldn’t be in a relationship.
2.     Do NOT use the terms ‘minors’ or ‘juveniles’ in the age gap-allowance, otherwise the 18 and 19 year olds who are in age appropriate relationships will be convicted and labeled “Violent Sex Offenders” for life.
3.     Do NOT create a new misdemeanor offense; otherwise registration as a “Sex Offender” could be mandated if they move to one of the other 49 U.S. States and when that happens even if they return to the Commonwealth because of the Interstate Compact they’d be an RSO for life here too.

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Goal #11:
Repeal or Amend Virginia’s 21-Day (to Recant) Rule
 
Problem:
Currently an accuser or witness is only allowed 21 days to recant an accusation in Virginia. Any longer and the State will not accept their recant and so the conviction and the requirement to remain on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry stands. Only DNA can reopen a conviction.
 
Solutions:
Chose one
A-               Repeal the 21 day limit entirely
B-               Add recants to the list of excepts as DNA was years ago
C-                Amend it to be 21 years, instead of 21 days
 
There have been past proposals that did not pass and excluded Virginians who took a plea deal. Both Alford and Guilty, these Virginians CAN NOT be excluded when more than 94% of Virginia criminal cases in Virginia are settled with a plea deal and less than 6% of our citizens have the resources to arrive at  a jury trial.
 
Virginia has repeatedly adjusted legal statutes to allow victims of abuse to come forward many years later. But when it comes to a recant by a witness it is 21 Days or NOTHING! The very same person that the Commonwealth previously based their entire case upon is now ignored.
 
Every recant should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly as would be done with every new accusation of abuse no matter how old.
 
There should be no deadline on the truth or clearing the name of an innocent citizen!
 
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Goal #12:
 
Add Sexual Misdemeanor Conviction to Virginia’s Writs of Actual Innocence.

Most Virginia misdemeanor sexual offenses mandate the person register as a Sex Offender for a minimum of 15 years, sometimes the judge adds it in the plea deal even if the statute doesn’t require it. But yet a plea deal in Virginia can not exclude registration as a Sex Offender, if the statute mandates it, there’s no way around it.  


Placement of the VSP Sex Offender Registry for a misdemeanor conviction is 15+ years of significant barriers in obtaining an education, housing and employment. In addition their movement in public places and their participation in their family's lives have been written into Virginia Code so that ANY violation results in a new felony, even though the original conviction was a misdemeanor!  

Today a Virginia Writ of Actual Innocence requires the conviction to be a felony AND for the defendant to have pleaded not guilty which means they went to trial and were found to be guilty.   

Currently there are efforts to remove the requirement that a plea of not guilty was made for a Writ, which makes sense because less than 6% of criminal cases in VA go to trial. The rest are settled with a deal presented by the Commonwealth Attorney where the defendant took either an Alford Plea or a Guilty Plea to get a reduced sentenced.  

But no one is working on adding sexual misdemeanors to Virginia’s Writs when it should have been added years ago.  
 
A misdemeanor isn’t supposed to follow you forever, a misdemeanor isn’t supposed to restrict or ban you from:
·                Employment  
·                Volunteering
·                Small Business Loans
·                HUD Housing
·                SNAP benefits
·                Earned Veterans benefits
·                International Travel
Or carry a felony punishment for any administrative slip-up. But for misdemeanor sex offenses these are not only possibilities, but reality.
If a victim or a witness recants their claim/testimony OR a new witness comes forward with evidence that could prove a RSO is innocent then that RSO should have an avenue to get the conviction overturned and to be removed from the VSP Registry. But today there is no process to do this. 

This is why sexual misdemeanors should be added to Virginia’s Writ of Actual Innocence.  

Otherwise the innocent Non-Violent RSO must wait a minimum of 15 years (mandated by VA law) before they can petition the court for removal from the VSP Registry, which could easily be denied by a judge who doesn't want to take the risk. And in the end their wrongful conviction remains on their record.  

Any new change needs to include those convictions prior to the 2006 and 2008 Virginia General Assemblies where some sexual misdemeanors were elevated to felonies and the Virginia State Police took those changes in law and retroactively applied them to current RSO’s. This increased their classification from Non-Violent to Violent and made them all “Lifers” with no opportunity to ever petition for removal.  

To force an innocent Virginian to endure the shame, the pain and the barriers that come with being listed on the VSP Registry simply because it wasn't a felony is truly cruel and unusual punishment.
 

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Goal #13:
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles continues to single out anyone listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry and it needs to stop! 

I - VA-DMV Standard Driver’s Licenses:
In 2008 Virginia Standard Driver’s Licenses became valid for eight years instead of the previous five years. Also the DMV began encouraging Virginians to renew on-line or through the mail instead of at a DMV location so a $5 processing fee was added for anyone who renews in-person. 

Except for anyone listed on the VSP Registry. 

All Registered Sex Offenders are prohibited from renewing their licenses on-line or through the mail. This means they are paying an extra $5 for the trip. 

Also all Registered Sex Offenders drivers license are NOT good for 8 years but only for 5 years, 37.5% sooner than other all other Virginia drivers. 

II - VA-DMV Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL):
In 2011 Virginia Commercial Driver’s Licenses banned anyone listed on the VSP Registry from obtaining/retaining a Type-S License, to drive a school bus OR a commercial vehicle that is chartering a school or daycare group/activity. All existing licenses were immediately cancelled. 

Anyone listed on the VSP Registry had to obtain a Type-P License, to drive a commercial vehicle with passengers.  All new paperwork and fees were required. 

III - VA-DMV Specialty and Vanity License Plates:
In 2016 ANY DMV-Specialty License Plate that is related to children or children's programs or with revenues paid to funds for the benefit of children is prohibited if the vehicle is owned OR co-owned (w/ a parent, a spouse or teenage child) by anyone listed on the VSP Registry. If the Registered Sex Offender remains on the vehicle the current license plate would not be allowed to be renew and no new plates would be issued.  

                        These current (2016) license plates were included:
1.       Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Kid’s First
2.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Heart
3.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Hand
4.      Virginia Family and Children’s Trust Fund Child Trust Star
5.       Virginia Cure Childhood Cancer
6.      Virginia Unlocking Autism
7.       Virginia Kid’s Eat Free 

Also in 2016, the VA-DMV shall not issue or renew personalized (Vanity) license plates if the vehicle is owned OR co-owned (w/ a parent, a spouse or teenage child) by anyone listed on the VSP Registry if the requested personalization (letter/number combination) relates to or references children. But by who’s judgment? It will just be easier for the VA-DMV to just deny all vanity-requests by RSO’s to avoid any possible issues. 

IV - VA-DMV Special Identification Cards:
In 2017 Virginia Special Identification Cards (for Person 70 Years of Age or Older who do not have a Driver’s License) fee was increased and became valid for eight years instead of the previous seven years.

Except for anyone listed on the VSP Registry. 

All Registered Sex Offenders are prohibited from renewing these identification cards on-line or through the mail.  

Also all Registered Sex Offenders identification cards will not be valid for 8 years and they don’t remain at the current 7 year mark, they dropped down to only 5 years. That’s 37.5% less time before an identification card for other senior citizens needs to be renewed. They must somehow get to a VA-DMV in the month of their 70, 75, 80, 85 and 90 birthdays, but they don’t drive.

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More to Come! - Mary