MA: Court to weigh in on sex offense law.
November 9, 2000
AGAWAM — Sex offenders are not currently being
registered by the state's Sex Offender Registry Board.
But the board hopes to again begin doing so starting
early next year, provided the state's Supreme Judicial
Court rules in the state's favor.
"We feel confident we're going to win it," Robert W.
Baker, the board's director of operations, said last night.
Baker expressed his comments during a public meeting
about the registry board held at the Agawam Police
Station. The meeting was the first such public meeting
ever held by the board in the state, according to Stephen
L. DiNatale, the board's director of training and
community services. Seven residents attended the
The board was created in September 1999, three years
after the state Legislature passed a law in August 1996
requiring sex offenders to register with police
departments and make the information available to
State officials have estimated that 17,000 people would
be required to register. An estimated 2,700 sex
offenders live in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and
Berkshire counties, Baker said.
Sex offenders are classified into three categories, ranging
from low risk, Level 1 offenders to high risk, Level 3
offenders. Information about Level 1 offenders is not
available to the public. As for Level 2 and 3 offenders,
residents can obtain the names of such people who live
"anywhere that you're likely to go or where your children
are likely to go," DiNatale said.
Sex offenders can request a hearing challenging their
classification. But perhaps more important, police
departments statewide have been barred from releasing
the names of sex offenders since last summer due to a
series of legal challenges.
"You can't release anything now," Agawam police Sgt.
Richard B. Curry said.
The current legal battle is being waged in the state's
highest court. Attorneys for a group of sex offenders told
the state's Supreme Judicial Court they believe a hearing
should be required before their clients must mail in
information about themselves to the state's sex-offender
Last summer, the Supreme Judicial Court expressed
concerns that sex offenders' rights were being violated
by the registry law. In response, the Legislature enacted
a bill in September 1999 allowing sex offenders to
register by mailing in a postcard, rather than registering in
person at the police station.
Source: Union-News, By Kenn Ross.