Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today I released the following statement regarding the recent indictment of Wakefield resident John Burbine on multiple counts of child sexual abuse:

Senator Tarr’s statement on needed changes streamlining information to the Sex Offender Registry Board

Senate Republican Caucus to file legislation for 2013-2014 session

“The Burbine case has exposed deep flaws in the state’s system for classifying and tracking sex offenders, while underscoring the need for better communication among the state’s public safety agencies to ensure that sexual predators are more closely monitored.  In early January, I will file with the Senate Republican Caucus, and any other interested legislator, comprehensive legislation requiring the timely sharing of information between law enforcement, prosecutors and the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) of open investigations of Level 1, 2 and 3 offenders so that individuals like Burbine don’t fall through the cracks where they can continue victimizing our most vulnerable residents.  This bill will include, at a minimum:

           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

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.

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.”