Letter – Sex offender list is insidious

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The General Assembly loves to pass bills with the words “sex,” “offender” and “public safety” in them.

The Sex Offender Registry in Virginia appears around 1994. HB 1687 by Del. Emily Brewer, R- Isle of Wight, re-penalizes those convicted of sex offenses more than 25 years ago (some of whom might actually be innocent) by forcing them onto the registry, which didn’t exist at the time of their conviction. This registry is so insidious that anyone on it is subject to two years in prison if they open an email account and fail to notify the Virginia State Patrol within 30 minutes.

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Brewer says her bill “closes the gap” by re-criminalizing everyone because “the public needs to know.” Everyone ever convicted of a sex offense, regardless of the reason, should appear on the registry, even though they may have had no convictions in a generation? 

As always, one example serves the end. Brewer says an elderly constituent suffered a home invasion and brutal rape from someone who, many years before, was convicted (we do not know the details, and details do matter) of a sex offense. Del. Brewer’s logic? Had everyone known the identity of the person, crime would surely have been prevented? 

That’s a non sequitur, yet, the bill passed subcommittee 7-0, and the House. Even Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, supported it. It probably will the Senate, too, by legislators who also want to look good over an oppressed but unsympathetic target – the so-called “sex offender.” 

No study supports the goals of the registry. Imagine putting all alcoholics who had DUI convictions on a registry, forcing annual breathalyzer tests, though they may have been dry for decades? Well, you never know, right? They could have a relapse, get behind the wheel and kill someone. But we don’t criminalize possible bad behavior there. 

The rule is you do your time for the crime. Then it’s over. Supposedly. Not for those of us who are (even wrongly) convicted, however. 


Norman M. Achin