NARSOL VA advocate: VA General Assembly legalizes shelter discrimination

By Sandy . . . When the next freeze hits Virginia, or the next hurricane threatens the eastern seaboard, that state will join others in which persons on a sexual offense registry can – and will – legally be denied entrance to emergency shelters.

The two houses of the Virginia Assembly, each unable to agree on the other’s version of an emergency management bill affecting registrants, got together and created one that went far beyond what either had originally proposed.

The bill was passed in the last days of the General Assembly; the result came within a vote or two of failing. The text of the bill:

  • includes a criminal penalty for failure to self-report one’s registrant status when seeking shelter;
  • deletes the clause contained in the Senate version that said no one could be denied entry because of registry status;
  • adds a clause saying that non-violent offenders cannot be denied entry but violent offenders can be denied entry while shelter personnel provide for the safety of the others in the shelter.

According to the advocate representative of NARSOL’s affiliate Safer Virginia, 82% of those on the state’s registry are labeled as violent due to Virginia’s classification system.

He reports that during debate, Democratic senators noted that the third clause could present a shelter with the opportunity to ban registrants from the shelter under the guise of ensuring the safety of others. The Republican senators argued that the clause meant that registrants could be barred entry only while safety accommodations were being made.

However, that is not the way the bill reads. Based on its verbiage, a shelter could indefinitely deny admittance to a registrant because safety accommodations for others in the shelter were not yet in place or were not complete.

And even if registrants were turned away for only one or two days, that is as long as it would take for someone to freeze to death or to drown in rising flood waters.

Our Safer Virginia advocate has contacted Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Social Services who run the emergency shelters in Virginia. Emergency Management has responded to him that it was all now in the hands of Social Services. As of this writing, he has not had a response from them.

In the meantime, NARSOL will add Virginia to its list of states to watch carefully for human right’s violations of registered citizens who seek shelter during emergency situations and are denied.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Plato the Younger 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #52556 Reply
    Sandy Rozek
    Sandy Rozek
    Admin

    By Sandy . . . When the next freeze hits Virginia, or the next hurricane threatens the eastern seaboard, that state will join others in which persons
    [See the full post at: NARSOL VA advocate: VA General Assembly legalizes shelter discrimination]

  • #52557 Reply
    Avatar
    d

    Sadly lawmakers only stop making such unconstitutional laws when there are actually negative consequences. The really sad part is the negative consequences on this will be someone’s family’s suing the hell out of the state after their loved one dies because they were not allowed into a shelter.

    • #52576 Reply
      Avatar
      Diane Palladino

      There could potentially be deaths on their hands. If they can live with that there is little a layman can do to prevent it. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. This could realistically include children, the very people that they so sthanchly advocate for. Unbelievable. I would want no part of it.

  • #52568 Reply
    Avatar
    Timothy

    AFFIRMATIVE disability was always going to be the outcome from the development of the electronic lists. Ultimately the like will be used to control voting rights. Let us no longer pretend this nation operates under constitutional ratification nor discipline.

  • #52575 Reply
    Avatar
    WC_TN

    The outrage for me is the fact that these states won’t spend even a penny building shelters just for registered offenders and their families. That lack of action should prove the punitive intent of laws such as this.

    That’s as much as saying, “We couldn’t put your sorry butt to death for what you did, but we can stack the deck to where you still meet an untimely demise. We’ll kill you by a thousand legislative cuts. We can’t put you to death directly, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    • #52653 Reply
      Avatar
      Timothy

      WC,
      I’m sure it a half million registrants begin hanging around D.C. homeless, shelter would soon be available. Given many do not assert themselves upon our legislators reflects their comfort in serfdom. I cannot abide.

  • #52584 Reply
    Avatar
    JR

    I can not believe that people are so heartless of those on the registry….especially when those on the registry need a place to LIVE. No state should be allowed by Federal Law to forbid anyone on the registry a place to stay during an emergency or period. Just seem this BS is getting out of control. No shelter or transitional housing should ban or forbid Sex Offenders from seeking a place to live as long as they follow the rules and laws. Just when you thought animals were treated like CRAP. Sex Offenders are treated more worse than diseases we seek to cure. WHY? Because our ignorant society would rather make it almost impossible for them to be normal members of society and cause them to relapse back into the criminal justice system where city, counties, and states make MONEY off prosecuting people just because they have no place to live. That is sad and sickening. Be careful of who you vote for in elections. They don’t really have everyone’s best interest at heart…only theirs.

    • #52586 Reply
      Charlie
      Charlie
      Moderator

      I agree, it’s hard to believe that in America we could be so backwards as to turn away people from shelter in an emergency. But wait is that really true? In 1874 the first child known to be protected by law against child abuse was protected only because it was prosecuted by the ASPCA, the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. At that time there were no laws protecting children from abuse by their parents. But there were laws protecting animals from cruelty. In our enlightened society we placed animals above the value of children. With that in mind, it is not so difficult to believe that in America there are people who place their own petty vigilantism and personal piety above the lives of other people. Politics can trump everything else. The theater of politics is all about gaining power.
      I make the link between child abuse, power, and politics because, domestic violence is well-established as the outcome of someone’s twisted need for power and control. Power and control begets domestic violence. When a politician is thriving on their own twisted desire for power and control they perpetrate domestic violence or public violence upon those who are weaker than they are. By preying on registered citizens they are able to make themselves look powerful, bullying those who have no true voice. Virginia is just the latest in a long legacy of power over people of poverty. Registered citizens are for the most part poverty struck persons who are not employable, not because of the lack of desire or lack of skill, but because of a lack of sympathy by those current position to bully them. Our politicians are the ultimate bullies. It disgusts me in these things happen.

  • #52587 Reply
    Avatar
    Timothy

    I do not see any sign of legislative movement to the inverse. Why should they given the highest legal authority in the land authorized legislative use of the words “Was in prison for….a sex crime.” A nation of compact indeed. It not like several courts have not ruled, they have little affect on law itself.

  • #52618 Reply
    Avatar
    Facts should matter

    “adds a clause saying that non-violent offenders cannot be denied entry but violent offenders can be denied entry while shelter personnel provide for the safety of the others in the shelter.”

    Doesn’t this place a discriminatory hierarchy on human life? This “initiative” is a direct violation of the Constitution and circumvents basic human rights in the state-sanctioned promotion of PERCEIVED SAFETY.

    Primal hate is the driving factor in all these sex “offense” laws. Facts, logic or love will never win the war against these lawmakers.

  • #52620 Reply
    Avatar
    Dustin

    Hmmm…

    “includes a criminal penalty for failure to self-report one’s registrant status when seeking shelter”

    So if they report their status on arrival, they get turned away. If they don’t report, they can survive, but have to pay a penalty? Surely, that penalty would be prison time, as a registrant seeking emergency shelter is likely homeless and broke, therefore can’t pay a fine.

    Guessing it was the “reports” of mass sex assaults in shelters during Hurricane Katrina that inspired this legislation and its previous versions. But has anyone bothered to verify if any of those claims were true? There were tons of reports of crimes of all kinds, the overwhelming majority either fabricated or grossly exaggerated by people looking for big payouts from FEMA, the state, the city, or whoever else.

    Seriously, during hurricanes or blizzards and such, even the most deranged pervert is concerned only with survival, not his next victim. Odds are, if a sex crime actually is committed in a shelter during a natural emergency or disaster, it won’t be committed by a registrant. And if it is, you can bet more anti-registrant laws will be written in response.

  • #52705 Reply
    Avatar
    Plato the Younger

    Isn’t this the same state that legalized “INFANTICIDE”? Yes, it is. So why the surprise about this act of vengeance? A few years back (1988) I saw this movie called “They Live” starring Roddy Piper and Keith David. The jest of the movie was that by wearing a special pair of sunglasses, a person could see who was human and who was not. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pair of these special sunglasses and wear them inside the VA Assembly?

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