Jumping Ugly In Virginia

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.

Also listed under: Sex Offenders and Justice

Comments: (4)

  • The Virginia Delegate who sponsored this terrible ...
    The Virginia Delegate who sponsored this terrible legislation is NOT Abbitt it is Clifford Athey. Here is his e-mail address, DelCAthey@house.virginia.gov
    Please send all e-mails to Athey, not Abbitt
    Reform Sex Offender Laws of Virginia
    Posted on January 18, 2010 at 8:49 am by Mary of Virginia
  • Great post and everything that you said is EXACTLY...
    Great post and everything that you said is EXACTLY right. Most sex offenses happen to children from within the family (or friends), these are proven statistics - so how does keeping someone from living by a school or park, etc. protect anyone. If a guy wants to hurt a child, it's not going to matter if he lives 500 feet from anything. And the non-violent offenders (consensual teen sex, etc.) are already paying a high price for their so-called crimes, forcing them out of their homes helps no one. If you really want to protect your children, EDUCATE THEM! Dont think residency restrictions on ALL offenses is going to accomplish this. And, if you think this cant happen to your teens, read more at
    www.love-is-not-a-crime.com before it's too late.
    Posted on January 18, 2010 at 11:51 am by toniat
  • We all make mistakes in our lives every day. If w...
    We all make mistakes in our lives every day. If we don’t learn from our mistakes then we should be held accountable, if we make a mistake and we have full remorse and taking proper steps to become a better member or our society by holding a full time job, providing for our family, not becoming a burden to our welfare system, why would our government of people for people would want to become against the people and push more and more citizens from their house that they pay for to the streets where they would be inclined to commit more crimes. I am totally against restricted residency specially for those of us that have made one mistake in their life and have learned and improved to the society that we are not a risk to the society but an equal contributor to the economy and success of this great nation as our fore father found this nation.
    Posted on January 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm by Hakim
  • OhioRSOL: Must be election time once again in...
    Must be election time once again in the ole Commonwealth of Virginia, because that is the only logical explanation that I can think of for such a narrow, bigotry, thought process as this person Athey has displayed. Perhaps this person should just take a look at the registry once, before even thinking about such laws. Garriado and Sowell, were both compliant register's but look at what transpired. Garriado went two hundred miles to get his victim...so much for residency restriction having an effect on saving our children. 95% of all sex crimes against children under the age of 16, is perpertrated by someone known to the victim or the victim's family. Lunsford knew Couey, Megan's dad had once drank with her killer...laws will not keep our children safe, but educating them and being a dilligent parent sure will.
    Posted on January 20, 2010 at 4:55 pm by Tammy

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