Group pushes for expansion of Alicia’s Law
Alicia’s Law, the Virginia legislation inspired by the rescue of a captive child, has generated more law enforcement funds than projected in its first two years and should be expanded immediately to ensure more child rescues.
That’s the message delivered today by a group of Virginia law enforcement and legislative leaders who joined the pro-child, anti-crime group PROTECT for a press conference in Richmond.
The gathering included Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Capt. Kirk Marlowe of the Virginia State Police and Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown, as well as Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath).
“Alicia’s legacy now lives on in a new generation of young people who have been brought to safety, as she was,” said Deeds, original sponsor of “Alicia’s Law.”
“There isn’t anything more pressing or more important than putting the needed money into the hands of the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces,” said Del. Todd Gilbert. “This is a problem we can solve by dedicating additional resources.”
Alicia’s Law created a dedicated state fund that supports law enforcement task forces dedicated to combating child exploitation, including child pornography trafficking and online enticement of children. When passed in 2010, lawmakers projected $1.8 million in state funds, but revenues generated by special court fees have exceeded those estimates by $650,000 annually.
“In just the first two years of Alicia’s Law, arrests have more than doubled, with over 332 last year alone,” said Camille Cooper, PROTECT Director of Legislative Affairs. “Child rescues happen every week now, thanks to Alicia’s Law.” But Virginia law enforcement continues to be overwhelmed by the volume of child pornography trafficking and online enticement of children, with long delays for conducting forensic analysis.
“The increased funding for law enforcement reduces backlog and provides the tools necessary to keep our children safe,” said Cuccinelli. “I’m pleased to support an initiative that will help protect Virginia’s most vulnerable and innocent citizens.”
Speakers at the news conference were flanked by the mug shots of Virginia child predators taken off the streets and convicted using Alicia’s Law funds. Nearly all the cases highlighted involved the rescue of children, some as young as toddlers.