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Sex Offenders Board Matter
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BOARD MATTER

Sex Offenders Residing in Residential Areas

August 1, 2005

BACKGROUND:

Mr. Chairman, my office has received a number of calls from alarmed constituents concerning convicted sex offenders who are now residing in their neighborhoods and were identified either through the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, the National Sex Offender Public Registry or by other means.

While Virginia's sex offender registry information is available to the public, individuals must know that it exists, be equipped and knowledgeable enough to and proactively pursue the information. The research must be done on a continual basis as the registry is subject to change. In addition, the Virginia State Police estimate that any given time up to 12% or more of the information on the registry is inaccurate. There is no community notification other than to specifically authorized organizations that themselves undertake to register for notification and to the police when a registered sex offender moves into a neighborhood. Convicted sex offenders moving into Virginia are required to register, but the state is wholly reliant on the offender to both comply and provide accurate information.

I think it is time that the County takes a serious look at the issue of convicted sex offenders that move into our neighborhoods and the protections that should be afforded our citizens.

MOTION:

To that end, I move that the Board include items in the legislative agenda submitted to the State, to address the following specific issues:

1 - Sex offenders should be required to register at the time of conviction rather than after release. This would ensure that they are included in the system for tracking purposes and that the information provided is accurate and complete.

2 - Sex offenders should be required to register their legal names and all aliases. Any subsequent use of a non-registered name should not be permitted and, if violation occurs, should be considered a violation of probation or parole.

3 - There should be a process by which a sex offender's re-entry into society is closely monitored by parole/probation officers from point of release to point of establishment of a permanent address. This should extend for a period of time thereafter to ensure they have remained at that address and obtained employment or other means of support. This would apply to individuals who are being released from a mandatory confinement or those that received probation in lieu of confinement.

4 - The current provisions for geriatric release of felony convicted sex offenders at age 65, regardless of what portion of their sentence has been served, should be eliminated. At a minimum, the provisions should be reviewed to ensure that an individual, for example, who is sentenced at age 63 to a 20 year sentence, is not automatically released at age 65 after serving only 2 years of that sentence. A minimum standard should be established to require, for instance, that all individuals convicted at age 50 and up must serve their entire sentence.

5 - There should be criteria established and an ongoing process developed that begins early in the period of incarceration, to determine whether civil commitment following release is an option that should be pursued.

6 - There should be consideration given to establishment of additional facilities, outside of the residential environment, for the housing of convicted sex offenders who cannot otherwise find suitable housing and/or employment and were not otherwise civilly committed. Consideration should be given to equipping these facilities with appropriate staff to administer prescribed medication or other treatment or support as may be indicated.

7 - An active notification process to advise when a convicted sex offender moves into a neighborhood was previously submitted by Delegate Shannon and failed due to the excessive cost impact. Ideally, Virginia should review its Megan Law statutes regarding community notification and should consider broadening them for further protection of its citizens. Under current law, citizens are not automatically notified when a convicted sex offender is released back into their community or when a sex offender from another state relocates to their community. Megan's Law in Virginia should be expanded to include proactive notification to the citizens by law enforcement of sex offender relocations into our communities. To begin to accomplish this, consideration should be given to establishing a process of electronic notification to individuals or institutions that register to be notified when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhood or surrounding area. This could be accomplished by any individual or institution submitting an email request to the Virginia State Police specifying the zip code(s) or jurisdictions about which they wish to be notified. When an individual is added to the State Sex Offender Registry an electronic notification could then be automatically sent to individuals and institutions requesting notification for a specified area.


   

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Last Modified: Thursday, August 25, 2005