RD19 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2009 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 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 appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; three non-legislative citizen members appointed by the Governor; and the Attorney General or his designee.

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, 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 hospital emergency rooms (“ER”), including the occurrence of violent incidents in hospital ERs in Virginia, compile 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 workgroup of practitioners primarily from the medical profession, conducted site visits to local hospital emergency rooms, 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. A final report will be published as a 2010 Senate Document.

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, including admissibility of evidence and use of expert testimony. 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. A final report will be published as a 2010 Senate Document.

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 report on Restorative Justice will be published as a Report Document. The report on Emergency Vehicles Proceeding Past Red Lights has been deferred to a later date. There is an ongoing civil lawsuit dealing with the subject matter of this bill. The Crime Commission has customarily refrained from making formal policy decisions on matters that are the subject of pending litigation.

Commission staff 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 ruling. Commission staff also reviewed legislation passed during the August 2009 Special Session in response to the ruling.

Additionally, staff monitored prison and jail concerns as identified by the Senate Finance and House Appropriations’ Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety.

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.

For detailed study reports regarding Expungement of Criminal Conviction Records, Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators, Sexting, Sex Offender Registry Provisions (Adam Walsh Act), and Melendez-Diaz, please see attached report.