Official describes sex offender tracking

January 5, 2007
By

LOU MANCINELLI

A representative from the Massachusetts State Sexual Offender Registry Board discussed a sexual offender awareness and containment strategy PowerPoint presentation at the December E-13 police community relations meeting.

Close to 15 community members packed the community room at the E-13 Police Station at Washington and Green streets.

Robert Baker, director of operations for the Massachusetts State Sexual Offender Registry Board, told community members the number of sex offenses is understated. His 42-person office informs the community about a sex offender living in the area only if an individual is convicted by a jury after a trial. According to information in the PowerPoint presentation, 12 to 15 percent of sexual offenders are convicted and their names made public. Of that percentage, only Level 2 and Level 3 offenders’ identities are publicized.

Issues such as victims feeling shame and the case falling apart clog the process. “It is hard to get the information out,” he said.

According to the state sex offender registry, for every 100 sexual offenses committed, 30 to 40 get reported. Twenty-four to 28 victims in those cases will identify the accused offender. Eighteen to 21 accused offenders go to trial, of whom 12 to 15 will be convicted.

Baker said knowledge about offenders is essential for promoting safety and requires coordination among police, community supervision agencies and the public.

The role of the sex offender registry is to identify people with an obligation to register as sexual offenders in Massachusetts. Offenders’ general characteristics and sex offense details are also analyzed by the board to determine facts about what kind of people tend to commit sexual offenses and how.

The sex offender registry board calculates three separate levels of risk that a convicted offender will re-commit an offense based on a list of criteria that includes the type of crime, age and number of victims, criminal offenses, manner of offenses, present stability and time in the community.

Names of local Level 1 sex offenders are available only to the police. Level 1 denotes a low risk of re-offense.

Level 2 sex offenders are publicized at the local police station. Level 2 means a moderate risk of re-offense.

Names of Level 3 sex offenders, those with the highest risk of re-offense, are available on the Internet.

“One of the worst things we did was put this information on the Internet because it makes people not come into the station,” and they do not find out about Level 2 offenders, said Baker.

In Jamaica Plain there are 28 registered Level 2 offenders and 21 registered Level 3 offenders. Throughout the entire city of Boston there are 213 registered Level 2 offenders and 100 registered Level 3 offenders.

According to the Massachusetts State Police’s website, in Suffolk County 316 incidents of rape were reported in 2004. In 2005, there were 320 reported incidents. Statewide in 2004, 1,760 incidents of rape were reported compared to 1,693 incidents in 2005. Statistics for 2006 were unavailable by deadline for this article.

“Sex offenders come from all walks of life, from all different socio-economic backgrounds,” he said. “They are a babysitter, a coach, a CEO…”

Baker said abusers rarely use force and often know and develop relationships with their victims. An abuser puts himself or herself in a position of trust. Targets are situational as opposed to preferential. “A single woman with a child is the biggest target,” he said.

“The idea of an abuser who snatches you out of your bed in the middle of the night is just not the case,” said Baker. “One man groomed a family for five years.”

“The most dangerous offender is an adult male who attacks a youth male victim. Luckily, those are the fewest,” he said.

Community members nodded their heads in agreement as Baker talked.

Jennifer Broder asked about the process of registering for homeless people who have been convicted of sexual offenses.

Baker said the homeless register the address of their homeless shelter. He said this makes it difficult to locate homeless offenders because they often move around a lot from shelter to shelter.

The state sex offender registry says the role of the police is to conduct community notification and to provide information about offenders in their jurisdictions. It should also monitor offenders for registration compliance and arrest those who are not.

The public should identify all known offenders they may encounter and understand there are more unidentified offenders. They should also learn to recognize signs of sexual abuse and dangerous behavior, Baker said.

Baker said community agencies promote public safety by ensuring officers comply with the conditions of supervision and assist offenders to obtain basic life needs or employment, housing, safety and sustenance.

For more information and for a list of sex offenders registered in the JP area, visit the Massachusetts sex offender registry’s website at www.state.ma.us/sorb.

Visit the E-13 Police Station at 3345 Washington St. to view names of Level 2 registered sex offenders.

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