Sex Offenders Residing in Residential Areas
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.
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.
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.
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.