Constitutional amendment; restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies. (HJ6)

Introduced By

Del. Algie Howell (D-Norfolk)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate

Description

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); restoration of civil rights.  Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies who have completed service of their sentences subject to the conditions, requirements, and definitions set forth in that law. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The amendment retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds an alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to law for nonviolent felons. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
11/19/2009Committee
11/19/2009Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/10 10100322D
11/19/2009Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
02/16/2010Left in Privileges and Elections

Comments

VA Men's Accountability Network writes:

Bills of this nature offer an important redemptive path for those convicted of felonies, allowing them to rejoin society and participate in the legislative process.

A fly in the ointment, however, is Virginia's propensity to revise and retroactively apply laws, redefining convictions years after the fact.

In 2001, the General Assembly rewrote laws to leave hundreds who had been convicted of non-violent offenses stigmatized with violent-offender status, regardless of the facts of their cases. When some of these offenders followed legislative process to affirm that they posed zero risk and should be released from "violent" offender requirements, the GA in 2006 again rewrote and retroactively applied laws, dismantling relief that had been granted by dozens of courts.

This practice, disingenuously called "administrative" when it is clearly punitive, traps hundreds of non-violent offenders in a never-ending labyrinth of new and changing requirements. It burdens them inappropriately with the stigma of violent offender status regardless of the law-of-the-land at the time of their convictions or the facts of their individual cases. It hurts property values, businesses and relationships, and sends falsely alarming messages to the community. Worst of all, it cuts off the redemptive path that should be built into the laws of our fine Commonwealth.

Retroactive rule-changing is leaving too many without hope or voices. As written, this bill has the right spirit but needs to accommodate the "nuance" of these reclassified non-violent offenders -- a nuance that has a practical, punitive, everyday impact on hundreds trying to be accountable and recover from their past mistakes.

Mary writes:

VA Men's Accountability Network.

I have looked to see if you have a web-site; it looks like a web page with no contact info.We obviously share a common goal.

Please contact us at Reform Sex Offender Laws of Virginia,www.rsolvirginia.org and rsolvirginia@comcast.net