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General Laws

Section 168. (a) There shall be a criminal record review board within the department of criminal justice information services consisting of the following persons: the secretary of public safety and security, who shall serve as chair, the attorney general, the secretary of labor and workforce development, the chair of the Massachusetts sentencing commission, the chief counsel for the committee for public counsel services, the chair of the parole board, the commissioner of correction, the commissioner of probation, the commissioner of youth services, the colonel of state police and the presidents of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, or their designees, all of whom shall serve ex officio, and 5 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall represent private users of criminal offender record information, 1 of whom shall be a victim of crime, 1 of whom shall have experience in the areas of workforce development or ex-offender rehabilitation and 2 of whom shall be persons who have experience in issues relating to personal privacy. Upon the expiration of the term of any appointive member, his successor shall be appointed in a like manner for a term of 3 years.

The chair shall hold regular meetings, 1 of which shall be an annual meeting, and shall notify all board members of the time and place of all meetings. Special meetings may be called at any time by a majority of the board members and shall be called by the chair upon written application of 9 or more members. Members of the board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the discharge of their official duties.

(b) The board may hear complaints and investigate any incidents alleging that a person that has requested or received criminal offender record information has failed to provide the subject with the criminal offender record information in his possession prior to questioning the subject about his criminal history in connection with a decision regarding employment, volunteer opportunities, housing or professional licensing or in connection with an adverse decision on such an application on the basis of the criminal offender record information. The board may hear complaints and investigate any incidents alleging any other violation of sections 168 to 178A, inclusive, or violation of board rules and regulations. The board may charge and collect a fee, established by the secretary, as a condition for filing a complaint, which fee may be waived upon a finding of indigency. Any complaint filed with the board shall be supported by a written declaration by the complainant that it is made under the penalties of perjury. An answer filed by a responding party shall be signed under the penalties of perjury by an individual with personal knowledge of its contents. In conducting investigations and hearings, the board, or department staff designated by the board, shall have the power to summons witnesses, compel their attendance and testimony, require the production of books, records and documents, administer oaths and have access to all criminal offender record information. The chair of the board may appoint a member, panel of 3 board members or a hearing officer to conduct hearings, according to the standard rules of adjudicatory procedure or other rules which the department may adopt, in consultation with the board. Following review of a complaint by a member, panel or hearing officer, the board, by a vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting, shall issue a ruling as to the findings of the board. In accordance with its findings, the board may issue orders and sanctions enforcing this section and the board’s rules and regulations, including, but not limited to, a remand for additional fact finding, the imposition of civil fines payable to the commonwealth not to exceed $5,000 for each knowing violation and conditions on continued access to criminal offender record information or revocation of access; provided, however, that the board shall not issue any orders, sanctions or fines against a law enforcement officer who, in good faith, obtains or seeks to obtain, or communicates or seeks to communicate criminal offender record information in the furtherance of the officer’s official duties. The board may at any time refer a complaint for criminal prosecution under section 178 of this chapter.

The board shall make an annual report of the volume and disposition of complaints without identifying data on any complainant or other information that would include criminal offender record information relative to any person reviewed by the board to the governor and file a copy thereof with the state secretary, the attorney general, the clerk of the house of representatives and the clerk of the senate. The annual report shall also be available to the public upon request.

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