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Norfolk County DA Morrissey Testifies on Sexual Predator Bill

The following was sent to Patch from David Traub, Press Officer/Director of Communications from the Office of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey

Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey was at the State House this week, standing with Rep. Tackey Chan to push their bill to force convicted predators to provide their email addresses and other online information when they register as sex offenders.

“As we investigate crimes, we see cases where defendants started with electronic contact, under false names or false identities, with their eventual victims,” Morrissey said. “This is an effort to curtail that kind of activity from those previously convicted of sexual assaults.”

Morrissey said the legislation should improve public safety in two ways.

First, it will be useful for law enforcement. When a sex offender does comply with the new requirement, it will create a meaningful resource to cross-check online identities without having to subpoena user information, Morrissey said.  When a sex offender does not comply, and an online identity traces back to them while police are investigating another crime, there would be an immediate right of arrest on the failure to register charge – even if police did not yet have probable cause to arrest on the central crime under investigation.

Second, part of the premise of community supervision of sex offenders is that recidivism can be reduced by keeping the post-conviction offender away from behaviors and patterns of thought that precede re-offense. “Creating false identities in order to communicate on-line under false premises should resonate as obvious bellwether behavior,” District Attorney Morrissey told the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at its May 7 hearing on House Bill No. 1252.          

“There has been a revolution in the way we communicate in the years since the Sex Offender Registry was designed and implemented in Massachusetts, but the registry has not evolved in kind,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “When the national enabling legislation known as Meghan’s Law passed in 1994, the public wasn’t communicating through email or social media.”

Representative Chan said “The legislation expands the way we protect our families from potential danger by sex offenders.  So much of our lives are connected through the Internet and identities we created.  We must update our laws to reflect the high technology world we live in." 

Morrissey has been pushing for the change since 2007, when he was serving as Quincy’s State Senator. He said New Hampshire enacted an analogous measure in 2009.

Morrissey and Chan received bi-partisan support of 19 other legislators who co-sponsored the bill, including Sen. John F. Keenan, Sen. Brian Joyce, Rep Paul McMurtry, Rep. Louis L. Kafka, Rep. William Galvin, Rep. Bruce Ayers, Rep. James Murphy and Rep. John H. Rogers.


Non Citizen May 09, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Nicely imprecise article, as is typical for this subject. Exactly whom will this legislation cover? The article says "convicted predators" and then later "sex offender". So, will it cover people only on probation/parole? Everyone listed? Facts would be nice. This legislation would "work" exactly as Registration itself does today - it would harass and punish the vast majority of people listed on the Registries who are doing nothing but living normal law-abiding lives like anyone else and all the while it would do absolutely nothing to even slightly hinder anyone else listed who wants to commit any crime at any time. In fact, just like Registration itself, as all experts have continually testified, this would probably be counterproductive. Registration causes more sex crimes to be committed than would be if it did not exist. If this legislation is passed, the criminal regime of MA should be sued immediately. Jurisdictions are losing these cases in federal courts. After MA loses, not only should they be forced to pay all costs, they should be forced to pay punitive costs as well. They are continually attacking and harassing a class of citizens and they should pay for it. People who are listed on the nanny, big government Registries are at war with the people who support nanny, big government. (cont. in my next post ....)
Non Citizen May 09, 2013 at 01:10 PM
(cont. from my previous post) Lastly, where are the rest of the Registries? If the Registries actually worked and were actually about public safety, all U.S. states would have created many other Registries prior to the year 2000 and laws such as this would apply to all the people listed on those Registries as well. That didn't happen because none of this is actually about public safety.
Lois Paul May 09, 2013 at 08:38 PM
This particular bill attacks first amendment rights and as such should make us all very wary. The sex offender registry has made it alright to find out all kinds of things in the government data base, such as who owns a gun or if your neighbor was ever convicted of a crime, any crime, regardless of whether he was exonerated later. If you allow this kind of attack on anyone's first amendment rights, you make it okay to attack other people's first amendment rights. I say, no WAY this bill should be allowed to pass, and if passed, no WAY it should be allowed to stand.
Shelly Stow May 09, 2013 at 11:16 PM
In addition to the excellent points made by the previous two posters, has anyone considered this: those who will comply with this requirement, should it become law, will be among the 95+% of those who will not reoffend and are trying to restructure their lives as law-abiding citizens. Those who intend harm, those who either cannot or will not alter their behavior, are highly unlikely to comply with the law and register anything that would be helpful. Just how will this be of benefit?
James Endicott May 10, 2013 at 02:36 AM
DA Morrissey is dead wrong. Just another uniformed bureaucrat wasting tax dollars. The evidence? Nationally, 5.3% of convicted sex offenders are rearrested for another sex-related crime. 3.5% are convicted. Regarding risk posed by convicted sex offenders, I strongly recommend pages 39-40 in Dr. Richard Wright's book, "Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions". A review of 38 studies of released sex offenders found a recidivism rate of 12% for those participating in treatment. That rate compares to 70% for robbers, 74% for burglars, 78% for motor vehicle thieves. And the rearrest rate for repeat rapists? 2.5% - "a low-frequency event (Langan & Levin, 2002)." The real public safety issue, however, is that “most child sexual abuse victims are molested by family members (34%) or close acquaintances (59%)... About 40% of crimes take place in the victim’s own home, and 20% take place in the home of a friend or relative.“ Your children are more at risk from your family, your friends and you than from convicted sex offenders. “...sex offenders are more likely to be rearrested for nonsexual crimes than sex offenses (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003…)“.

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