RD36 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2007 Interim Executive Summary of Activities

Executive Summary:
Established in 1966, the Virginia State Crime Commission (“Commission”) is a legislative agency authorized by Code of Virginia § 30-156 et seq. to study, report, and make recommendations on all areas of public safety and protection. The Commission is a criminal justice agency as defined in Code of Virginia § 9.1-101.

The Commission consists of thirteen members that include nine legislative members, three non-legislative citizen members, and one state official as follows: six members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates; three members of the Senate to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; three non-legislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor; and the Attorney General or his designee.

Throughout 2007, the Crime Commission met five times: January 9, May 22, September 11, November 13, and December 13. Commission staff continued completing activities of its ongoing juvenile justice study, mandated by HJR136. Staff consulted with a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge workgroup, formed to assist with the statewide judicial survey that was distributed during the fall of 2007. Prior to the creation of the survey, staff traveled to nine localities across the state that were selected based on regional location and population. Once there, staff conducted focus groups and observed Juvenile and Domestic Relations court proceedings. Due to the detailed information produced during the study, the Crime Commission endorsed legislation to extend the juvenile justice study an additional year.

In addition to mandated studies, the Commission also reviewed mandatory minimums, methamphetamines, sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children, “Romeo and Juliet” laws, confidentiality of juror information, criminal juror disqualifications, failure to report crime, the Adam Walsh Act, and gang statutes. The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, in conjunction with Orchid Cellmark, gave a presentation on Y-STR DNA testing, which is being considered for use at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science. The Commission heard information on the use of First Responder Authentication Credentials in Virginia (FRAC) in a presentation from the Governor’s Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.

Commission members also received a presentation from the Department of Corrections regarding security, contraband, and personnel issues at the state’s only privately operated prison facility located in Lawrenceville, Virginia. At the next meeting, in September, the Commission traveled to the Lawrenceville Correctional Facility where a follow-up security operations review report was provided to members, as well as a tour of the facility.

In addition to regular meetings, the Crime Commission formed an Illegal Immigration Task Force which met five times in 2007: May 15, July 24, August 28, September 25, and October 16. The Task Force’s mission was to study the impact of Illegal Immigration on Virginia’s criminal justice system. The Task Force focused its review on crime by and against illegal immigrants, the cost of illegal immigration on Virginia’s criminal justice system, and what measures may legally and effectively be taken at the state and local levels of government. The Task Force approved 16 recommendations for the Crime Commissions consideration and referred three matters to the Governor’s Commission on Immigration.

As part of the Crime Commission’s legislative package to the 2008 General Assembly, the recommendations of the Illegal Immigration Task Force which require statutory or budgetary amendments were endorsed including those involving the issues of: admission to bail, inmate reporting, jail construction, jail per diems, training, as well as a resolution urging Congress to take action regarding illegal immigration.

For detailed study information regarding Mandatory Minimum Crimes in Virginia, Methamphetamines, and Restrictions on Sex Offenders, please see attached report.