The Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) recognizes that victim survivors of sexual assault can suffer devastating long-term emotional, psychological and physical harm. Sexual assault can happen at any time. It occurs in our homes, churches, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and communities by sex offenders that are known to us and by strangers. The Board is committed to providing victims with compassion, respect and sensitivity by considering their individual experiences as crime victims.
Role of the Sex Offender Registry Board
The SORB is a public safety agency responsible for determining if persons convicted or adjudicated of sex offenses who are living, working, or attending an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts have a duty to register. If so, the SORB is responsible for assessing the risk of reoffense and the degree of dangerousness sex offenders pose to the public. The primary goal of the SORB is to enhance public safety by providing the public with accurate information about sex offenders so they can make better decisions to protect themselves and their families.
The Sex Offender Registry Law (SORL) requires that the SORB be composed of members who are appointed by the Governor to serve specific terms. The SORL requires that the Board include experts in the areas of victim services, criminal justice, and the assessment and treatment of juvenile and adult sex offenders.
Victim Services Overview
The SORB has a Victim Services Unit (VSU) to provide victims with assistance, information and notification as the offender progresses through the registration and classification processes. The VSU assists victims with writing impact statements and also provides support, safety planning, crisis intervention, and referrals for resources, as needed.
Victim Services Unit Contact Info:
Sex Offender Registry Board
P.O. Box 4547
Salem, MA 01970
Phone: 978.740.6440 or 1.800.936.3426
In order for a victim or a parent/guardian of a child victim to participate in the SORB process, there must be a conviction for a sex offense committed against the victim or child victim. Typically, victim referrals are submitted -- by the District Attorney's Office at the time of the offender's sex offense conviction -- to the SORB through a form entitled, "Victim Participation and Notification". This form is also accessible on the SORB's website at www.mass.gov/sorb. A victim or parent/guardian must enroll with the SORB's VSU in order to be included in the classification process of a sex offender.
If you are a victim or a parent/guardian of a child victim where a conviction does not exist, please contact the VSU at 978.740.6440 or 1.800.936.3426. The VSU can answer general questions about the SORL and direct you to local law enforcement when appropriate.
Victim Impact Statements
The SORL requires the SORB to consider a written Victim Impact Statement (VIS) as a factor in determining an offender's level of dangerousness and risk to reoffend. Through the written statement, the victim is given the opportunity to describe the harm the offender has caused. Understanding the devastating, often long-term impact of sex offenses on victims is critical to assessing the consequences of the offender's criminal behavior. If a sentencing VIS is received as part of the victim referral process, the SORB includes it in the classification process.
If enrolled with the SORB, victims or parent/guardians of a child victim are notified of the right to submit a VIS for Board consideration. SORB's VSU will notify victims or a parent/guardian of a child victim when:
• the preliminary classification of the offender has begun,
• an offender requests a hearing to challenge his preliminary classification level,
• the final registration and classification level determination is issued by the Board,
• a court issues an order changing the offender's final registration and classification level status,
• the SORB initiates a reclassification review of the offender's level, if new information suggests the risk level has increased,
• the offender requests reclassification to a lower level, and
• the offender is no longer subject to Massachusetts registration requirements.
Sex Offender Registration
The SORL requires registration for any sex offender who: (1) lives, works or attends an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts; and (2) was also convicted or adjudicated a delinquent or youthful offender, incarcerated, on probation, on parole, or was released from a civil commitment for a sex offense on or after August 1, 1981.
Unclassified sex offenders are obligated to first register with the SORB via mail and not with the police. Sex offenders are required by the SORL to provide their current residential, secondary, employment and school addresses. Offenders who fail to register with the SORB or to update address information may be subject to arrest as such failure is a felony crime.
Length of Registration
The length of registration required for sex offenders can vary depending upon the type of sex offense conviction. A classification level does not affect the length of registration. The SORL requires that those persons convicted of a sexually violent offense or 2 or more sexual offenses against a child must register for life. The SORL requires for certain other sex offenses that the duty to register shall end 20 years after such sex offender has been convicted or adjudicated or has been released from all custody or supervision, whichever occurs last.
Persons whose only sex offense was committed as a juvenile may request relief from their duty to register. Persons convicted or adjudicated of sex offenses other than sexually violent offenses or a single sex crime against a child may also request early relief from their duty to register. Such requests are not automatically granted by the Board and are reviewed on a case by case basis.
After an unclassified sex offender registers with the SORB, he is assigned for classification review. The offender is given 30 days to submit information to the SORB regarding sex offender specific treatment, current lifestyle, employment and living situation, alcohol/drug abuse treatment and any other information the offender seeks to have considered. The SORB also gathers critical information, such as victim impact statements, police reports, court records, probation and parole records, state and national criminal records, and other criminal justice records that identify the details of the offender's past behaviors and criminal activities.
A single Board member examines all of the above described materials obtained as part of the classification and considers a number of factors in the decision-making process. These factors are defined in the SORL [ADD LINK] and serve as a guide in assessing the current dangerousness and risk of reoffense presented by each offender. The Board member then issues a preliminary classification level recommending the offender be a Level 1 (low risk), Level 2 (moderate risk), or Level 3 (high risk). The level speaks to the degree of dangerousness and risk to reoffend. The preliminary classification level is not accessible to victims or the public as it is not yet a final level.
The offender is notified in writing of his preliminary classification and has 20 days either to: (1) Accept the preliminary classification and waive his right to a hearing and an appeal, or (2) Request a hearing to challenge the preliminary classification. Acceptance in writing, or failure to respond on time makes a preliminary classification a final classification.
A hearing is scheduled following the receipt of a written request from the offender. The offender is given copies of all of the materials reviewed as part of the offender's preliminary classification; this includes impact statements provided by victims. For safety reasons, the SORB asks victims not to put any identifying contact information on VIS submissions.
The hearing is conducted by a single hearing examiner, who may also be a Board member. The hearing examiner takes an independent view of all the materials and factors to be considered. Unlike the criminal trial process, the SORB hearing by law is not open to the public, including victims.
At a later date following the hearing, the hearing examiner issues a lengthy written decision determining the offender's: (1) duty to register as a sex offender, and (2) the current risk level he or she poses to the public. The SORB notifies the offender in writing of his final classification level. The offender then must register with the SORB as a Level 1 (low risk) or with the police as a Level 2 (moderate risk) or Level 3 (high risk). The level speaks to the degree of dangerousness and risk to reoffend.
The offender has the right to appeal the final classification level within 30 days in Superior Court. The offender may also seek a court order to prevent the dissemination of his or her information to the public pending the appeal.
The SORB notifies appropriate law enforcement, probation and parole officials when an offender is finally classified respective to their jurisdictions. This notification allows the police to monitor whether or not an offender registers in compliance with the SORL. It is upon final classification of Level 2 and Level 3 offenders that both require and allow local police to disseminate information about these offenders to the public.
Level 1 sex offenders are not required to register with the police and his or her information is not accessible to the public. Level 1 offenders are required to re-register with the SORB on an annual basis during their birth month.
Level 2 sex offenders are required to register with the police departments where they live within 48 hours of receiving notice of their Level 2 designation. Information about Level 2 sex offenders is accessible to members of the public who request it at their local police department. This information includes the sex offender's name, identifying data, residential, secondary, employment and school addresses, sex offense conviction data, physical description and a photograph. Level 2 offenders are required to re-register with the police on an annual basis during their birth month.
Level 3 sex offenders are required to register with the police departments where they live within 48 hours of receiving notice of their Level 3 designation. Information about Level 3 sex offenders is posted on the SORB's website at www.mass.gov/sorb for review. In addition, members of the public can request information at their local police department. This information includes the offender's name, identifying data, residential, secondary, employment and school addresses, sex offense conviction data, physical description and a photograph. Level 3 offenders are required to re-register with the police on an annual basis during their birth month.
In addition, Level 3 sex offenders are subject to active community notification conducted by the police since they are considered to have the highest risk to reoffend. To enhance public safety, the police are required to notify organizations and the public who are likely to encounter Level 3 offenders, including all schools.
All incarcerated sex offenders are also required to register with the SORB via mail 2 days prior to release from custody. In addition, any sex offender who is already classified as a Level 2 or Level 3 offender at the time of release is required to register within 2 days with the local police where he or she intends to live.
Level 3 sex offenders who are incarcerated in county or state correctional facilities are posted on the SORB website as well.
The SORB may, at any time, seek to initiate a reclassification review to possibly increase an offender's level should new information suggest the offender poses a higher risk to reoffend. Likewise, offenders may make a request to the SORB to be re-classified to a lower level every 3 years, but reclassification is not automatic. In addition, offenders must be free from custody for five continuous years before they can seek a reclassification review. Victims, if enrolled with the SORB, will be notified of any offender or SORB initiated reclassification reviews. Victims may submit a new VIS for the review.
Offenders in Violation
Sex offenders may be subject to arrest and prosecution for violating the SORL if they knowingly fail to register, fail to verify registration information, fail to provide notice of any changes in their addresses or provide false registration information. The violation of the SORL is a felony crime.
Victim Information Conclusion
The SORB is committed to providing assistance to victims in a sensitive and supportive manner. Please feel free to call our VSU at 978.740.6440 or 1.800.936.3426 if you need assistance.