Virginia lawmakers are on the cusp of making a big mistake: They are about to make the restrictions imposed on all persons convicted of sex offenses even more stringent.
In theory, it all sounds like a great idea. Protect our children from risk. Who could oppose the concept? But the devil is in the details.
House Bill 1004 wants to eliminate the distinction between serious and non-serious sex offenses and require anyone who has committed an offense against a minor, whether it be violent or non-violent, a felony or a misdemeanor, to refrain from living within 500 feet of a child. Under this bill, even ancient convictions could evoke the residency restrictions.
The law not only expands the scope of observe the residency restriction, it also adds a series of new locations that offenders cannot live near. Included in the new bill are bus stops, community centers, recreation centers, public parks, playgrounds and community swimming pools. The current law only includes schools and day care facilities.
The new law will be effective immediately. Anyone living within 500 feet of the designated locations will be required to move immediately.
This is an example of the sort of overbroad and unthinking legislation produced by hysteria. By painting all folks convicted of any crime against a minor with such a broad brush, it refuses to recognize that many sex offenders pose no risk to the community. The bill stigmatizes without discriminating and is virtually guaranteed to yield more prosecutions and more homelessness.
Send a copy of this post to: Clifford Athey, DelCAthey@house.virginia.gov to register your protest.
Hat Tip: Commenter for pointing us in right direction regarding email protests.