I-Team: Looking for homeless sex offenders

Level 2 is a moderate risk; Level 3 is the most dangerous

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Right now there are 13 sex offenders in Springfield who are in violation because police don’t know where they are, or the offender isn’t following registry rules.

With the click of a mouse, you can see all the Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in your neighborhood, or so you think. The 22News I-Team took a closer look and found there are dozens of sex offenders who are homeless and could really be anywhere.

“He’s supposed to be over here. We’ll check the other parking lot up there,” said Springfield Police Officer John Aberdale. The I-Team followed Officer Aberdale and his partner as they drove and walked the streets of the city to audit eight Level 2 and 3 offenders.

Level 2 being a moderate risk to the public; Level 3 being the most dangerous and likely to re-offend. “Where are you? Yeah, where are you, we’ve just got to check you off,” they said.

Police have some offenders cell phone numbers and a general idea of where people sleep, whether it’s in their car or along a riverbank, but it doesn’t always mean the search is easy. “For homeless sex offenders, it might take us 2,3,4 times before we can actually find them,” Officer Aberdale said.

Although sometimes they get lucky. Police say offenders wind up homeless for a number of reasons. We talked to one man who legally can’t be with his family. “My victim was in my family, so when I was released, I couldn’t go live back home with my family,” he said. He added that he’s been working for years to get back on his feet and stays close in contact with police. Although not everyone does.

After hours of searching, we only found three of the eight offenders we were looking for. Officer Aberdale says they just keep trying until they find them.

While not all offenders are pedophiles, he says it’s also good for residents to frequently check the registry and know who’s living in your neighborhood. “At any time anyone can re-offend, everyone should just be alert, check the websites and see if there’s any sex offenders in your community,” Aberdale said.

Any offenders not found over time, will be put into violation and arrested when they’re caught. In addition to these audits, homeless offenders have to stop into the city’s sex offender registry office once a month, while others only stop in once a year or when there are changes to their address.

The sex offender registry allows you to see what sex offenders live in your community.

Levels of Sex Offenders

Definitions of the Classification Levels for Sex Offenders

A sex offender is any person who resides, works or attends an institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth and who has been convicted of a sex offense, or who has been adjudicated as a youthful offender or as a delinquent juvenile by reason of a sex offense, or a person released from incarceration or parole or probation supervision or custody with the department of youth services for such a conviction or adjudication, or a person who has been adjudicated a sexually dangerous person or a person released from civil commitment on or after August 1, 1981.

There are 3 Levels of Sex Offenders in Massachusetts

Level 1 Sex Offenders

Where the Sex Offender Registry Board determines that the risk of reoffense by an offender is low and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public by that offender is not such that a public safety interest is served by public availability, the Board shall give that offender a Level 1 designation. Information on Level 1 offenders will not be available to the public. Neither the police nor the Board have authority to disseminate information to the general public identifying a Level 1 offender. Information identifying Level 1 offenders may only be given to the Department of Correction, any county correctional facility, the Department of Youth Services, the Department of Social Services, the Parole Board, the Department of Probation and the Department of Mental Health, all city and town police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for law enforcement purposes.

Level 2 Sex Offenders

Where the Board determines that the risk of reoffense is moderate and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a public safety interest is served by public availability of registration information, it shall give a level 2 designation to the sex offender.

The public shall have access to the information regarding a level 2 offender through the Local Police Department, through the Sex Offender Registry Board and posted on WWLP.com.

Level 3 Sex Offenders

Where the Board determines that the risk of reoffense is high and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by active dissemination, it shall give a level 3 designation to the sex offender.

The public shall have access to the information regarding a level 3 offender through the Local Police Departments, through the Sex Offender Registry Board and posted on WWLP.com.

Length of Registration

The length of registration required for sex offenders can vary depending upon the type of sex offense conviction. A classification level does not affect the length of registration. The SORL requires that those persons convicted of a sexually violent offense or 2 or more sexual offenses against a child must register for life. The SORL requires for certain other sex offenses that the duty to register shall end 20 years after such sex offender has been convicted or adjudicated or has been released from all custody or supervision, whichever occurs last.

Persons whose only sex offense was committed as a juvenile may request relief from their duty to register. Persons convicted or adjudicated of sex offenses other than sexually violent offenses or a single sex crime against a child may also request early relief from their duty to register. Such requests are not automatically granted by the Board and are reviewed on a case by case basis.

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