BOSTON — Convicted child rapists who commit new crimes could be sentenced to life without parole under a proposal by Gov. Charlie Baker to toughen sex offender laws.
Baker’s proposal, which went before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would increase the penalty for rape of a child with force by someone who has already been convicted of sexual offenses to life without parole. It establishes new charges for the rape of multiple children with force, which would carry a mandatory life sentence.
It also would require a hearing by a new, five-member “sexual dangerousness review board” of psychologists to resolve disputes over the release of a sex offender held under the state’s civil commitment law. The opinions of two “qualified experts” are currently all that’s required to certify a sex offender as non-dangerous and eligible for release from custody.
“Serial child predators should be incarcerated with no possibility of release,” Andrew Peck, Baker’s undersecretary for criminal justice at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, told the committee on Tuesday. “This legislation will ensure that an offender who has raped two of more children … will not be released back into the community.”
Baker’s proposal is backed by many police chiefs and other law enforcement officials who argued that serial child rapists like Wayne Chapman are likely to reoffend.
“They do not just commit their crime once and stop,” Marblehead police Chief Robert Picariello told the panel. “They’re serial offenders who perpetrate their crime again and again.”
But Michael Ryan, an attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services who has represented defendants accused of sex crimes, told the panel that convicted sex offenders have one of the lowest rates of recidivism.