Thursday, January 22, 2015

Virginia wants to publicly shame Registrants (and their children) who want to get involved with their kids' educations

Some of you might find this hard to believe, but some people on the registry -- wait for it-- have kids! I know, it is a shocker, right? Even more amazing is the fact that registered people actually want to do the typical parenting thing. 

What makes this bill unique isn't a ban on allowing registered persons on school grounds, but the process by which a registered person can petition to be exempt from the law to see his own kid. This is the actual text of the bill as it relates to this petition:

C. Every adult who is prohibited from entering upon school or child day center property pursuant to subsection A may after notice to the attorney for the Commonwealth and either (i) the proprietor of the child day center, (ii) the superintendent of public instruction and the chairman of the school board of the school division in which the school is located, or (iii) the chief administrator of the school if such school is not a public school, petition the circuit court in the county or city where the school or child day center is located for permission to enter such property. The court shall direct that the petitioner shall cause notice of the time and place of the hearing on his petition to be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper meeting the requirements of § 8.01-324. The court may permit any person who attends the hearing to testify regarding the petition. For good cause shown, the court may issue an order permitting the petitioner to enter and be present on such property, subject to whatever restrictions of area, reasons for being present, or time limits the court deems appropriate.

[You can find the full text of the bill HERE]

What does this mean? The registered person wanting to be involved with his kid's school life has to petition the court, and that hearing will be released to the media. It is nothing but a form of humiliation for the registrant AND his kid. That is Shiitake-worthy. 

I'll allow the ACLU to finish critiquing this bill: 

ACLU questions new sex offender bill

By Stephanie Harris
Published: January 20, 2015, 11:25 pm  Updated: January 20, 2015, 11:26 pm
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VIRGINIA (WAVY) — Their faces and address are already public, now one Virginia lawmaker wants registered sex offenders to face public hearings before going inside schools.

To have access to Virginia public schools, House Bill 1366 would require violent sex offenders to pay for a newspaper ad publicizing a personal court hearing. It would run once a week for two weeks. Then anyone could attend the hearing and testify against them.

The bills author, Delegate Jeff Campbell, says it’s about safety, but the ACLU says it crosses the line of civil rights.

“The public hearing is simply an invitation for an angry mob to gather at a school and get in the way of a parent’s right to be involved in the education of his or her child,” said ACLU of Virginia’s Executive Director Claire Gastanaga.

Gastanaga said there is no real proof that registries and restrictions like this keep kids safer. He said the most direct impact of the bill would be on parents with kids in school who want to go and meet with the kids’ teachers.

Delegate Campbell disagrees: “I disagree totally, what it does is it gives parents of the other children a say in who is around their children.”

The ACLU is also concerned that paying for the ad would be hardship. 10 On Your Side checked with the Virginian-Pilot. They could not quote us on an ad without exact wording, but said it costs $8.11 per line, per day.

That is an acceptable amount, according to Delegate Campbell: “The public’s right to know who is around their children and to have a say in whether they agree in that or not trumps that individual’s right to free access to the school,” he said.

Currently, sex offenders must inform school superintendents before they go inside a Virginia school.

Delegate Campbell said there was an incident last year in Wise County where a parent did that and got permission to attend sporting events, but then started showing up to school at other times. Parents got upset and that is the reason for his bill.

A subcommittee unanimously passed the bill on Monday, but there is no set date yet for it to go before the full committee.

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