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Commission hears concerns over release of sex offenders

Many sex offenders who are civilly committed end up getting released without supervision, officials at a state treatment center said Wednesday, calling it a “red flag” during a presentation to a special commission studying recidivism.

Better communication needs to occur between state agencies such as the Department of Correction and the Sex Offender Registry Board, the officials said.

Brooke Berard, director of treatment assessment at the Massachusetts Treatment Center, and Kaitlyn Peretti, the center’s supervising psychologist and director of training, made the presentation to the commission, which is chaired by state Senator William Brownsberger,
Democrat of Belmont, and state Representative Paul Brodeur, Democrat of Melrose.


The center, a medium-security facility, is located next to Bridgewater State Hospital and houses inmates convicted of sexual offenses, temporarily committed offenders, and civilly committed sex offenders who are held for a period of time after they have been incarcerated.

Agencies sometimes do not take treatment records into account when releasing offenders, leading to release decisions inconsistent with treatment recommendations, Berard and Peretti said.

Berard said that she and her colleagues also do not have the jurisdiction or authority to follow offenders after they leave the center to determine if the treatment efforts have worked.

“We have people with research skills to follow people to find out what’s . . . working but they can’t,” she said.

Andrea Cabral, public safety secretary and a commission member, said post-release supervision can be built into a sex offender’s sentence. “I think post-release supervision is an excellent idea,” she said.

The commission has been gathering information and hearing from experts on sex offenders and reviewing tools used for measuring and reducing recidivism rates.

“The real question is how are we spending the resources we have to best protect the public, and that’s what we’re really trying to answer,” Brownsberger said.


Other members include state Senator Joan Lovely, Democrat of Salem, state Representative Evandro Carvalho, Democrat of Dorchester, representatives from the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Department of Mental Health, Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan, and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.