SD29 - Megan's Law

Executive Summary:
In 1998, the Virginia General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 68 (SJR 68/Howell) directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to continue its study of "Megan's Law" for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the legislation which provides access to information on convicted sex offenders on the Virginia sex Offender and Crimes Against Children Registry. The study further directs the Crime Commission, in collaboration with other criminal justice agencies, to develop educational materials for communities to enhance the public's awareness of the dynamics of sex offending and to provide safety strategies for improving personal safety against potential sex offenses. Finally, the study resolution directs the Crime Commission to seek federal grant funds to develop a database for the purpose of evaluating the community notification legislation.

Findings & Recommendations

The Crime Commission adopted a comprehensive package of recommendations to strengthen the registration of sex offenders, improve community supervision of sex offenders, and provide community education materials to the public on strategies to prevent incidence of sexual offending. The recommendations included:

• Amendment of § 18.2-472.1 to clarify the venue for prosecution for failure to register. Venue occurs where the offender last registered, was supposed to have registered, or was convicted.

• Clarification that the local law enforcement agency is responsible for obtaining fingerprints and photographs for the Sex Offender Registry.

• Inclusion of all aggravated sexual battery statutes in the "sexually violent offense" category.

• Amendment of the Code to require that persons living in Virginia for more that 30 days who are required to register must register with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.

• Amendment to allow a registrant to seek relief from registration requirements due to a physical disability that renders the registrant incapable of re-offending and incapable of re-registration. State Police will conduct an annual review to determine if circumstances have altered.

• Requirement that a sex offender risk assessment be applied to sex offenders under community supervision to determine the level of monitoring.

• Policy that all sex offenders are placed under intensive supervision.

• Provision of resources to community corrections for treatment and polygraph examinations.

• Fund recommended to implement 8 to 10 pilot sites for the implementation of Community Containment Model for Sex Offenders. This will include:

-limiting caseloads to 35 per probation and parole officer;
-adequate resources for polygraph exams; and
-adequate resources for sex offender treatment.
-Resources Needed: $684,000

• Request that the Department of State Police develop a brochure on mechanics of "Megan's Law" and do a series of press releases after January, 1999.

• Direct the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop a training protocol and educational materials on sex offenders to be made available to local low enforcement agencies or appropriate agencies, upon request.

• Resources Need: $101,505


Initiating these proposals will help to assure that Virginia has a sound, local policy in place, a policy that reduces the incidence of sex offenses, thereby increasing the public's safety. These proposals look both to ensure that sex offenders are closely monitored, and to provide the public with the tools necessary to take responsible actions in personal safety efforts. In sum, the primary goal is to enhance both public safety and victim protection.