Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories
December 17, 2015
In attendance: Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Dept and DOC re-entry program; Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Jay Levy, Eliot-CHS Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Laurie Guidry provided us an update on statewide happenings on this issue:
The Special Commission to Reduce Sex Offense Recidivism, after meeting for over a year (which included the Network presentation), is now in its report-writing stage, meeting as a core group to get clear on its recommendations. The report is likely to be published for review (and subsequent public hearings) in late February or March. The Network will plan to testify at the public hearing on the report.
SORB issued new regulations about 6 weeks ago that unfortunately failed to incorporate all the “best practices” learning acquired through the Commission (SORB representatives have attended the Commission meeting, making the disconnect all the more confounding). SORB held a public hearing on these regulations on December 16, which Laurie attended, along with other expert colleagues. The Network also submitted written testimony consistent with its Commission presentation last July.
The MA Supreme Judicial Court just issued on Friday, 12/11/15, an extremely important decision regarding SORB’s requirements to assign a level of risk (e.g., Level 1, 2 or 3) by a more stringent standard. Instead of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, the Court imposed a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. This decision will have significant ramifications for SORB’s decision making and signals the broader acknowledgment of the need for significant reform. This is great news!
Laurie will keep us posted on follow-up developments from this decision, the Commission’s work and SORB’s regulations. The Network will be at the ready to participate and add its voice to the effort for positive reform.