RD49 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2013 Interim Executive Summary of Activities

    Executive Summary:
    Established in 1966, the Virginia State Crime Commission (“Commission”) is a legislative agency authorized by the 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 the Code of Virginia § 9.1-101.

    The Commission consists of thirteen members - 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 2013, the Commission held three Commission meetings: September 3, November 14, and December 2. During the 2013 General Assembly Session, a total of one mandated study and six bill referrals were sent to the Commission and approved for review. The Commission also decided to continue the comprehensive study on illegal cigarette trafficking from the previous year. The Commission continues to be involved in the Forensic Science Board’s DNA Notification Project.

    The Commission was mandated by House Joint Resolution 595, which incorporated House Joint Resolution 730, to study the issue of child sexual abuse and consensual sexual conduct between school personnel and adult students. Specifically, staff was mandated to review the laws and policies governing the investigations of alleged child sexual abuse in the Commonwealth, and the feasibility of creating a criminal penalty for sexual conduct between secondary school teachers and adult students. Staff reviewed other states’ laws on these issues, collected data and met with various representatives around the state to determine what changes should be made to the current procedures. A work group was created to review the child sexual abuse portion of this study and was convened two times during the summer. The work group was comprised of over 30 representatives with specific knowledge of child sexual abuse investigations. A final report will be published as a 2014 House Document.

    Throughout the year, staff researched several other issues as a result of bill referrals to the Commission during the 2013 Session of the General Assembly. Senate Bill 1273 and House Bills 1541 and 1991 dealt with expungement of charges in cases involving forced prostitution, as well as the disposition of minors engaged in forced prostitution. Staff also examined issues regarding the possibility of allowing prior sex offense convictions into evidence in later sex offense cases as a result of Senate Bill 1114 and House Bill 1766. House Bill 1919 included a review of joint motions for writs of actual innocence. Details regarding these studies will be made available as attachments to this document and in the Commission’s 2013 Annual Report. Detailed study presentations can be found on the Commission’s website at: http://vscc.virginia.gov.

    As a result of these studies, a number of legislative proposals were endorsed by the Crime Commission and will be presented for consideration during the 2014 Session of the General Assembly. The Commission’s legislative package includes bills dealing with illegal cigarette trafficking, child sexual abuse investigations, writs of actual innocence, and admission of prior sex offense convictions.

    In addition to these studies, the Commission’s Executive Director serves as a member of the Forensic Science Board pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 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 that may be suitable for testing exists within old Department of Forensic Science case files.

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