Lawmakers tighten sex-offender restrictions
Adults convicted of sexually violent offenses would be barred from entering school buses and would have to submit a DNA sample under two bills headed toward approval in the General Assembly.
House Bill 2066 “expands the prohibition on entry onto school grounds by any adult convicted of a sexually violent offense to include any school bus.” The measure was approved unanimously by the House on Feb. 8 and by the Senate last week.
The Senate broadened the prohibition to include any public or private property being used for a school-related or school-sponsored activity. That change now must be considered by the House.
The bill’s patron, Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, said that people convicted of a sexually violent offense present a threat to children. He said it is important to make sure students are safe on their way to school -- especially on a bus where other adults may not be present.
“Every parent of a student puts his boy or girl on the bus and takes a leap of faith that his child will get to school safely,” Bell said. “This is an effort to help keep that faith.”
He said HB 2066 is an extension of a law passed in 2007 that prohibits sexually violent offenders from entering school property.
“I patroned the original law, which was prompted by a sex offender who visited a Central Virginia elementary school dressed as Santa Claus,” Bell said.
Bell said the Virginia State Police suggested expanding the ban to school buses.
Bell also is sponsoring HB 2065. He said it would “require the collection of (deoxyribonucleic acid) DNA samples upon a conviction for additional sex offenses, including sexual battery, ‘peeping,’ and sexual abuse by an adult of a child who is 14 or 15. It would also authorize the taking of DNA samples pursuant to a plea agreement among all the parties.”
HB 2065 also cleared the House and Senate on unanimous votes. The Senate substituted its own version of the bill; on Friday, the House unanimously approved the Senate substitute.
Bell said that currently, the state can collect DNA samples for violators of some sex offenses, but not the ones he has listed in the bill. He said the new law would expand the DNA database because it is adding additional sex offenses to the list.
“DNA in the database can be used to determine if the defendant commits a sex offense in the future,” Bell said. “DNA helps ensure that the guilty person is caught.”
HB 2065 was suggested by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science as a way of improving the DNA database, Bell said.
Bell said that upon conviction, the defendant will be required to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the database.
“Improving the DNA database will help us catch the perpetrator if he ever re-offends in the future,” Bell said. “DNA helps us catch and punish the guilty just as it helps exonerate the innocent.”
To track or comment on House Bill 2065, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2065 To tr.ack or comment on HB 2066, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb2066
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.
A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”
The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.
The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.
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