Senate Republicans expect to file comprehensive legislation during the new session aimed at reforming how information about sex offenders is shared between law enforcement and other officials.
The bill is a response to the ongoing case involving Wakefield resident John Burbine and some 100 counts of child sex abuse he is facing. His wife, Marian, is also facing charges in the case for running an illegal daycare and for reckless endangerment.
Burbine’s original classification suggested his risk of re-offense was low, and the public would not benefit from the disclosure of his information; however, subsequent facts have proven this assessment was inadequate and needed to be adjusted accordingly. Since 1989, Burbine has been the subject of multiple investigations that, with due diligence, would have warranted further scrutiny of his classification level and risk to re-offend.
According to an announcement from Senate Republican Leader Bruce Tarr, whose territory includes Wilmington, the bill is expected to include – at the minimum, the following provisions:
- a requirement and authorization for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to communicate with the SORB in a timely fashion about the commitment of subsequent offenses by a registered sex offender;
- the legal authority of the SORB to re-classify sex offenders based on new information, which was taken away by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals on July 16, 2012 in its ruling in the case of John Doe 16748 v. Sex Offender Registry Board (Docket Number 11-P-308);
- the ability of the SORB to expedite the re-classification process of a sexual offender upon the recommendation of law enforcement and prosecutors; and
- a requirement for the timely re-classification of sex offenders who have committed subsequent offenses
Tarr indicated that he expects to file the comprehensive bill himself, and noted that other interested lawmakers are welcome to join him.
“We want to produce as comprehensive a bill as possible. I am looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with other stakeholders – including law enforcement, district attorneys and other legislators – to craft legislation that will provide better safeguards so predators like Burbine are classified properly and not allowed to continue to prey on innocent victims,” said Tarr.
Note: For complete coverage of the Burbine case, visit this page on Wakefield Patch.