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Boston — Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today testified about the need for a more active approach to enforcement by the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB). The remarks came as part of an oversight hearing by the Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security in response to a recently released audit of SORB by Bump’s office.
“At the most fundamental level, what is needed at SORB is a change of culture and mindset, from one that is passive—managing and processing information that comes to them—to one that is active, in which they seek out information about those who are out of compliance, innovate to overcome challenges they face, and take advantage of the tools and resources at their disposal to ensure they meet their mission,” Bump told the Committee.
Specifically, Bump called for SORB to establish and use data-sharing agreements with other executive branch agencies to find offenders that are out of compliance with their registration requirements. Additionally, she called on the agency to improve its processes to ensure offenders are classified before they leave incarceration.
“SORB plays a critical role in ensuring the public’s safety in Massachusetts communities. We count on it to provide accurate information to us about individuals that present a high or moderate likelihood of reoffending,” said Bump. “SORB has an obligation to do everything within its authority to meet this task.”
The audit, which Bump’s office released last month, found SORB did not have a current address for 1,769 convicted sex offenders, of which 936 had never been classified. The audit also found that SORB did not ensure that all sex offenders were assigned a final classification before they were released from incarceration.
The Sex Offender Registry Board was established by Chapter 29 of the Acts of 1996 to comply with the 1994 Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, which requires states to create a registry of sex offenders and crimes against children. SORB works with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure the proper registration of sex offenders in Massachusetts. It is the only entity tasked with classification of each registered sex offender. SORB states its mission is “to promote public safety through educating and informing the public in order to prevent further victimization. This is accomplished through registering and classifying convicted sex offenders by risk of re-offense and degree of danger and disseminating the identifying information of those offenders who live, work and/or attend institutions of higher learning in the communities of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
At the time of the audit, its registry contained records of 21,808 convicted sex offenders. Of those, 13,127 lived in Massachusetts; 5,260 had moved out of state while another 3,421 were either incarcerated or had been deported.
The Board consists of seven full-time members appointed by the Governor.
Auditor Bump's full testimony is available here.