YEARS AFTER a 2017 audit of the Sex Offender Registry Board, the board has not made recommended changes to record and verify the current addresses of sex offenders in violation, according to state Auditor Diana DiZoglio.
“By law, SORB is required to keep sex offender registry information up-to-date and accurate. It is important that SORB work with our state and local public safety departments to properly educate the public about registered sex offenders living, working, or attending school in the Commonwealth,” DiZoglio said in a statement. “When our audit findings and recommendations are ignored, as was the case here, it’s not only a waste of taxpayer dollars but can be a threat to public safety. It is imperative that these matters be addressed immediately.”
The board, which is tasked with registering and classifying convicted sex offenders according to their risk of reoffense and the degree of danger they pose, did not assign final classifications to all sex offenders before they were released from incarceration during the auditing period, as required, the new report found.
DiZoglio’s office wrote that SORB should work to better monitor and predict release dates, in part through collaboration with correctional facilities. The board should be monitoring any delays or issues that could arise throughout the release process, the auditor recommends, to classify all sex offenders at least 10 days before their earliest potential release dates.
SORB officials told the auditor that they rely on correctional facilities for release date information and there are often complications with releases due to medical issues, court dates, and transfers between facilities.
The board will continue to pursue a system upgrade with the Department of Correction (DOC), SORB wrote in its reply, where parole and release dates will “automatically transfer/populate” in the system as DOC updates them.
DiZoglio’s office wrote in its report that it will be conducting a post-audit review to verify that SORB makes the recommended changes.
According to the latest audit, SORB did not always conduct address verification data matching or update its information system with up-to-date addresses. And, though the prior audit tasked the board with entering into interdepartmental service agreements to ensure accurate data, it did not perform the agreed upon verification steps to make sure that the address data matched, the new audit found.
In its response, SORB officials said, “A generalized statement that SORB did not perform these verifications is inaccurate. SORB depends on many agencies to investigate offenders in violation and offenders who may be out of compliance and overdue for registering. SORB regularly pulls data from [multiple federal and state agencies]. [Several of these agencies’] reports contain new and historical data. SORB staff shares new information with law enforcement partners at least monthly.”
The board could have updated its system more promptly to assist with identifying 100 offenders ultimately found at other addresses, DiZoglio’s office said. The auditor’s office recommends updating the registry information system routinely in collaboration with these intergovernmental partnerships.
The 2017 audit also said that the SORB should have a documented and tested business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan, to make sure classification records and data would be preserved if there was an unanticipated issue with the main database. Since the time period recently audited, SORB has finalized such a plan and will test it later this summer, the board said in its reply.