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Local Lawmakers, Police Chief, Testify on Sex Offender Legislation

Legislation filed in aftermath of John Burbine's arrest aims to fix weaknesses in the state's sex offender registry system.

Local lawmakers and Wakefield’s chief of police were among those calling for changes to the state’s sex offender laws during a Tuesday, May 7 hearing at the State House.

The legislation aims to address weaknesses in the sex offender registry system that were brought to light by the John Burbine child sex abuse case. At least one his alleged child sex abuse victims is from Newton.

“This legislation will strengthen our laws, provide more information to parents and caregivers, and require information sharing among law enforcement and the agencies we depend on to keep our kids safe,” said Clark.

Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith testified about a parent who came to the police station last summer asking for information Level 1 sex offenders – and was unable to do so, according to the Boston Herald.

“They came to the window and asked, ‘Can I find out about a Level 1 sex offender?’ and the 
officer said, ‘No, we can’t tell you any information about any Level 1 sex 
offender.’ It stands out in our officer’s mind because it’s not very often that people come in and ask about 
Level 1 sex offenders," Smith said, according to the Herald. 

One Wakefield mother unsuccessfully tried to look into Burbine's background after her child became a client of the former Waterfall Education Center. It was reported in regional media outlets soon after his arrest that Burbine, facing more than 100 total counts involving child molestation, had been a Level 1 sex offender since 1989.

The law is already receiving some support. In a statement, lawmakers noted that their bill, An Act to Protect our Communities, has 27 co-sponsors and strong support from Middlesex County DA Marian Ryan.

The law would also:

  • Allow limited public access to Level 1 offender information, currently unavailable to the public. This change would enable police departments to share information when presented with a specific request by a parent or caregiver.
  • Create a rebuttable presumption that an offender convicted of a crime involving a child should be classified as at least a Level 2 offender.
  • Provide for direct access to Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) information by agencies responsible for ensuring child safety.
  • Grant the SORB the authority to reclassify offenders on its own initiative or upon written request by a District Attorney or police department.  
  • Require the creation of a structured system of communication among the District Attorneys, police, SORB and other state agencies to facilitate sharing information realted to reclassifying a sex offender.
  • Establish a commission to determine the best methods of classifying sex offenders.
  • Clarify registration requirements and information to be reported.
  • Require the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to publish licensing information on its website.

The full text of the bill is available at: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S656.

BarT May 08, 2013 at 09:18 PM
The more Draconian these registry laws become, the more they will appear to be ineffective, costly and destructive. The system will crash. First they came for the sex offender, then they came for the gun owners . . . .
ltm May 09, 2013 at 02:45 PM
John Burbine and I believe another, Marian Burbine who allegedly facilitated, at the least, John Burbine’s propensity to sexually assault babies and children is an extremely uncommon role for any sex offender or accomplice on any tier of the registry.. Considering Mr. Burbine to be a level one sex offender and a family goes to the Sheriff’s office making inquiries about Mr. Burbine; why didn't the Sheriff’s department follow up on the inquiry?. Changing all level 1 sex offenders is not a fix at all. It was the State who determined John Burbine as a level 1 offender and that is the beginning of a series of failures by the state to perform. The Sheriff's Department and the State Department of Children and Families who investigated Burbine in 2005 and 2009 failed to at least monitor John Burbine as an ongoing investigation, especially knowing he is a registered sex offender! The failure to follow up on John Burbine rests solely on the State. To generate a new set of laws encompassing other level 1 offenders who are leading uneventful lives and breaking no laws should not take the heat for the State's performance failure to do their jobs This is so typical of the States stupidity and attempt to cover it up by crying out we need stronger laws. What a ludicrous empty show and mockery of police work, family services and the legislative process and attempt to dupe the citizens of Wakefield.

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