• Mass. Senate leader proposes making Level 1 sex offender info public


    BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is set to file legislation on Friday he says would crack down on loopholes in the classification of sex offenders.

    "We're going to be filing what amounts to a bipartisan bill," says Tarr. "We're going to have a strong, bipartisan coalition."

    The move comes after the horrifying case of convicted Level 1 sex offender John Burbine.

    Burbine, whose wife ran a daycare, is accused of 100 counts of sexual abuse against children as young as 8 days old.

    The case is moving lawmakers to action before Friday's bill filing deadline.

    The legislation calls for all Level 1 sex offender information to be made publicly available. The current law makes that information available only to law enforcement.

    Sen. Tarr's proposed legislation also calls for felony sex offenses against children to be automatically classified as Level 2, leaving room to argue the classification later. Tarr also says the legislation improves communication between law enforcement and the Sex Offender Registry Board.

    In a key provision, Sen. Tarr says he wants the board to be legally allowed to hold another hearing and reclassify an offender if new information comes to light. Currently, that is now allowed unless there is another conviction.

    "The main point is we want this board to operate functionally. We want them to take action when there's an increased threat and we want to give the folks that are charged with protecting us the ability to work with folks to make sure that happens," Tarr explains.

    Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith has been working with both Democrats and Republicans on this issue. He's not endorsing one plan over the other, but he does agree with many of the provisions, including making Level 1 information publicly available and giving the board the authority to reclassify an offender and improve communication between agencies.

    "We can't afford to have another situation out there like we had in Wakefield in the past couple of years with Mr. Burbine," says Smith. "I do not want to go through another 12 years like we did with Melissa's bill."

    Smith is referring to the 12 years it took to pass the three strikes bill into law.

    In early January, Senate President Therese Murray told FOX 25 sex offender classification would be a priority during this legislative session.

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