In general, the State of Virginia is known for dealing with criminals, shall we say…effectively. During this last General Assembly session (www.legis.state.va.us), lawmakers did find a few ways to make our streets a little safer and would-be felons even more jittery. Here, four passed bills that will help the state fight crime.
Albemarle Delegate Rob Bell got quite a few crime bills to Governor Kaine’s desk this session. Bell’s superpower? Keeping sex offenders off school property and swiping kiddie porn users’ computers in a single bound.
Triggermen lose their status
Used to be, a suspect could only be executed for capital murder if prosecutors could prove they were the actual perpetrator of a capital crime. This means that crime duos like the 2002 Beltway snipers could only receive the death penalty if one of them ‘fessed up to being the “triggerman.” Following this bill (HB 2348, SB 1288) prosecutors can seek the death penalty for accomplices, too.
Filling in the DNA databank
Legislators had this bill land in their laps when Charlottesville Police Captain J.E. “Chip” Harding discovered that about 20 percent of local felons who should have been in the DNA databank were missing. Guessing the problem was state-wide, local Del. Rob Bell put in a bill (HB 3034) to make sure felons are getting swabbed and put in the database, as Virginia law has mandated since 1990.
Cleaning up the Internet
In a sweeping move to attempt to keep track of sex offenders online, a bill (HB 2749) passed that requires sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and AIM names. Another bill (HB 2980) allows seizure of a suspect’s computer equipment if they get busted for kiddie porn.
Stay off the swing set!
This bill (HB 2344) mandates that violent sex offenders are guilty of a felony if they enter an elementary or secondary school during school hours unless they have a court order. While this seems like a no-brainer, opponents pointed out that sometimes even violent sex offenders have to pick up kids from school.
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