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Veterans Required to Register as Sex Offenders

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Veterans Required to Register as Sex Offenders

Veterans who are required to register as sex offenders face unique challenges in our communities related to housing, emotional health, and financial hardship. In U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) CHALLENG Survey, housing for registered sex offenders has been identified each year as the number one unmet need by Veterans and homeless service providers since the item was added to the survey in 2011 (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups (CHALENG) fact sheet). Additionally, VA medical centers often identify the need to register as a sex offender as a barrier to finding permanent housing in local communities. A lack of knowledge and understanding of the population can lead to labeling, stigma, and fear among both professionals and community members.  Better understanding the specific needs of these Veterans can lead to improved outcomes in housing and successful community reintegration.

In 2010, VA's Office of General Counsel issued guidance detailing VA responsibilities concerning registered sex offender seeing treatment at VA facilities.  VA Medical Centers should treat Veterans eligible for VA health care who are also registered sex offenders the same as they would any other patients. 

VHA Directive 1162.06, Veterans Justice Programs, expounds, "All states are required under federal guidelines to maintain a registry of offenders who have committed certain sexual offenses after those offenders have served a sentence and been released to the community…Based on state and local guidelines, persons on these registries often are restricted from living in certain areas in the community, including areas close to parks, schools, and day care centers. Some states also require community notification when a person on a registry moves to the area. VA's Office of General Counsel has confirmed:

  1. VA must treat a Veteran who needs to register as a sex offender the same as any other Veteran.
  2. VA may not place a flag on a Veteran's electronic health record based upon needing to register as a sex offender. If the Veteran presents a safety concern and requires an escort while on campus a safety flag may be placed on the record, but it must not identify the Veteran as a sex offender.
  3. VA Police may not check on Veterans to confirm their address or confirm addresses to local community law enforcement.
  4. On Federal grounds a Veteran is not limited as to where they may seek services or reside based on the location of child care centers. If there is a child care center on VA Federal land, a Veteran who is a sex offender may pursue residential treatment on grounds and seek services on grounds. If the Veteran presents a safety concern to children, a safety flag may be placed on the electronic health record requiring an escort while on VA campus as in (2)."

In 2012, new federal regulations (revised 38 CFR 17.107) were issued prohibiting the practice of banning disruptive, threatening, and violent patients from Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care. VA cannot ban Veterans from services.  "VA may restrict the time, place, and/or manner of care under this section, VA will continue to offer the full range of needed medical care to which a patient is eligible."

For providers:

Council of State Governments 2016: Reentry Housing Options for Sex Offenders

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Veteran Sex Offender Access to Housing and Services after Release from Incarceration: Obstacles and Best Practices

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VA Office of General Counsel Guidance 2010

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For veterans:

Veterans Justice Programs Services for Veterans Involved in the Criminal Justice System Fact Sheet

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Sex Offender Registration and Failure to Register FAQs

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Needs of homeless veterans: 5 years of the CHALENG Survey 2012-16. Tsai J, Blue-Howells J, Nakashima J. J Public Health (Oxf). 2019 Mar 1;41(1):e16-e24. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy076.

Veterans in Prison for Sexual Offenses: Characteristics and Reentry Service Needs. Finlay AK, McGuire J, Bronson J, Sreenivasan S. Sex Abuse. 2019 Aug;31(5):560-579. doi: 10.1177/1079063218793633. Epub 2018 Aug 10.

Seamone, E. R., Brooks Holliday, S., & Sreenivasan, S. (2018). Veteran non grata: Veteran sex offenders with service-related mental health conditions and the need to mitigate risk. Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, 6(1), 182-237.

Van Dyke, K., & Orrick, E. A. (2016). An examination of the influence of veteran status on offense type among an inmate sample. American Journal of Criminal Justice.

Veteran sex offenders and reentry problems. Schaffer B. J Correct Health Care. 2011 Jul;17(3):266-70. doi: 10.1177/1078345811401355. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Levenson JS. Collateral consequences of sex offender residence restrictions. Criminal Justice Studies. 2008;21(2):153-66.

Brown, K. Spencer, J.O.N. & Deakin, J.O. (2007). The reintegration of sex offenders: Barriers and opportunities for employment.  Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 46(1), 32-42. 

Levenson JS, Cotter LP. The impact of sex offender residence restrictions: 1,000 feet from danger or one step from absurd? International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 2005;49(2):168-78.

POC

For more information on Veterans required to register as sex offenders contact Katie Stewart, LCSW; katharine.stewart@va.gov

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

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