RD134 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2009 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
Throughout 2009, the Commission met five times: January 13, May 11, June 25, September 16, and December 15. At the Commission’s December 9, 2008, meeting, staff was requested to continue its juvenile justice study an additional year with a focus on issues related specifically to the transfer and certification of juveniles. As part of this study during 2009, staff conducted a fifty state review of other states’ transfer laws, examined recent research regarding adolescent brain development, sought to obtain detailed data on juveniles who are transferred and certified in Virginia, and surveyed Commonwealth’s Attorneys and Public Defenders. Due to data limitations, the Commission requested that staff continue to review this issue during 2010 in order to obtain the necessary data on juveniles who are transferred in Virginia.

The Commission was mandated by Senate Joint Resolution 358 to research public safety issues that exist in Virginia’s hospital emergency rooms (“ER”), including the occurrence of violent incidents in hospital ERs, strategies that can be used by hospitals to prevent or deal with violent incidents, and identify the most effective methods of preventing ER violence and of dealing with violent incidents when they occur. As part of this study, staff created a comprehensive work group of practitioners primarily from the medical profession, conducted site visits to local hospital ERs, and sought to collect data regarding violent incidents in emergency rooms. The study also included a review of House Bill 2436, regarding assault and battery of emergency room personnel.

The Commission was also mandated by Senate Joint Resolution 363 to study issues regarding the prevalence, apprehension, and prosecution of persons with false IDs, measures to prevent the manufacture and use of false ID documents, identification of these documents by law enforcement and other persons, and judicial procedures. As part of this study, staff reviewed current Virginia statutes related to false IDs, collected data on statute usage, reviewed new technology implemented by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles related to Virginia IDs, and received input from Commonwealth’s Attorneys and the law enforcement community on this issue.

In addition to aforementioned mandated studies, the Commission conducted studies pertaining to restorative justice, emergency vehicles proceeding past red lights, expungement of criminal conviction records, civil commitment of sexually violent predators, “sexting,” and provisions related to the sex offender registry (Adam Walsh Act). The study on emergency vehicles proceeding past red lights was deferred to 2010 due to an ongoing civil lawsuit.

Commission staff also reviewed and reported on recent developments in case law pertaining to the use of telecommunications devices as a possible mechanism to help alleviate the burdens placed on the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, specifically stemming from the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. Commission staff also reviewed legislation passed during the August 2009 Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly in response to the ruling.

In addition to these studies, the Commission’s Executive Director serves as a member of the Forensic Science Board pursuant to § 9.1-1109(A)(7). The Executive Director also acts as the Chair of the DNA Notification Subcommittee, which is charged with the oversight of notification to convicted persons that DNA evidence exists within old Department of Forensic Science case files that may be suitable for testing.

In accordance with § 19.2-163.02 the Commission’s Executive Director also served on the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, and specifically as a member of the Budget Committee and the Personnel and Training Committee.