Does crime bill protect adequately?
Posted in the Fitchburg Forum
Does crime bill protect adequately?
The crime bill Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law yesterday could justly be viewed as a small but significant step by the state to rein in the costly and devastating impact the nation’s war on drugs is wreaking on communities.
But the new law, which was driven by a desire to keep violent offenders behind bars for life, or to deny them parole opportunities, may end up mimicking some of the downsides of the war on drugs.
As I have reported in this space earlier this year, according to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition — LEAP, an international organization of police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI agents — the war on drugs has made the United States one of the most punitive countries in the world.
Moreover, the drug war, launched with a $100 million price tag in 1970, now costs about $70 billion a year when federal, state and local funding are taken into account.
The law signed by Mr. Patrick yesterday will we hope create some modest reversal of the drug war’s expensive and community-destroying incarceration trend in Massachusetts.
Among other things, the new law will reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. According to the state office of Public Safety, it will save the state at least $2.5 million in annual prison costs by making 580 nonviolent drug offenders eligible for parole.
The law was largely triggered by the rape and murder of Melissa Gosule in 1999 by a felon with 27 prior convictions. It gathered steam two years ago when Woburn Police Officer John Maguire was shot and killed by repeat offender and suspected jewelry store robber Domenic Cinelli.
The new law would have kept Mr. Cinelli, who was killed in the shootout with Officer Maguire, behind bars for life.
Before the law’s passage, there were 688 felony infractions in Massachusetts on which a third conviction could draw a defendant a maximum sentence with or without parole. Under the new law, 46 of those 688 felonies will now draw a defendant a maximum sentence without parole, including 19 that will draw life sentences.
Previously, only a murder conviction carried life without parole in the state.
Critics such as Leslie Walker of the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services said she is concerned the new law defers too much to district attorneys and does not allow judges enough discretion in adjudicating the three-strike rule.
While armed robbery is one of the felonies that can draw a three-strike conviction, she noted that in Massachusetts a person can be charged with armed robbery without having a weapon on him.
“If the victim thinks the defendant has a weapon, it can be classified as an armed robbery,” she said.
A judge, she said, ought to have the discretion to look at a charge and decide that while it looks bad on paper, it does not warrant a three-strike conviction.
Without that discretion, defendants suffering from mental health and substance abuse, instead of being provided with the help they need, could end up serving the rest of their lives in prison, she said.
“To automatically send people away for life or for long periods without parole is shortsighted, expensive and not a proven deterrent to crime,” she told me yesterday.
“It is an emotional bill.”
Gov. Patrick also had reservations about the lack of discretion judges will have under the law.
He was mindful, as many in the minority community are, that while 72 percent of all drug users and dealers in the United States are white, 60 percent of those in state prisons for drugs and 81 percent of those charged with federal drug violations are black.
He didn’t want the new crime bill to exacerbate that trend in the state.
He even took the rare step of asking the Supreme Judicial Court whether a provision in the law that will allow a defendant with a third strike (habitual offender) an automatic appeal to the high court was sufficient protection.
Chief Justice Roderick Ireland responded that the automatic appeal would not provide the protection the governor sought, and the provision instead had the potential to overburden the high court’s docket.
Mr. Patrick could have vetoed the bill, and I wish he had, because the state could have adequately dealt with its violent repeat offenders without creating the potential for some of the same harmful unintended consequences we are experiencing with the nation’s failed war on drugs.
3 strikes and yer out. I like it. Keep the trash off the streets. I'll gladly pay more in taxes if we'll see more prisons being filled with law violating trash.
This bill is just that and nothing else but vengence seeking. Once again our leaders have allowed emotions and politics to be able to take over commonsense.
This bill will gridlock the courts as defendents seek full jury trials as they face life for crimes such as simple assault.
Many of these offenders will be acquited in trials while the man that steals a slice of pizza will be found guilty and sentenced to life at $40,000 a year.
Kids will lose their fathers over trivial matters for life.
This nazi approach is just that, unconstitutional and irresponsible.
Currently our judges are entrusted with sentencing. I need to point out that most of the most violent crimes are committed by first time offenders with a license to carry!
As we see in todays paper a correctional officer claims that he had a gun pointed at him by another officer in the past. This officer is now charged with pointing his gun at his wife and threatening to shoot himself.
Just over a year ago a correctional officer pointed a gun at bar patrons and then got killed in a shootout with state troopers.
The batman incident where dozens were killed. And the list goes onward. From the stock brocker in mass who cut his wifes heart out and placed it on a stake to the med student who killed the craigslist women.
I would guess that most violent crimes are committed by first time offenders or other offenders who had just drug and/or gun charges.
Breaking and entering to me is very dangerous and alarming. Our lawmakers have known for decades that parole lets out the worst candidates and refuses to parole to the rehabilitated inmates.
It is all about money! the parole board always has known that the rehabilitated will not return to jail so they keep them in at $40,000 a year so they can recieve these funds from the federal government.
Historically they have paroled inmates who are known inside as very non-rehabilitated to say the least inmates while refusing the rehabilitated ones.
Some will say that this bill is a get tough on crime bill but the could not be more wrong! The judges know what they are doing, let them do what they know how to do.
The fact of the matter is that crimes are committed by licensed carriers more than not! Domestic violence after domestic violence case often involves a license gun owner!
This new law will also have the correctional officers requesting more funds as the prisons become much more violent. With the increase in violence the state will no longer be rehabilitating as they will be molding non-violent inmates into being violent!
Lawmakers do not think at depth again! So a man could get life if he commits a simple crime? So if that person is 20 yrs old then incarceration will be on average 60 yrs Xs $40,000 ??????
The prisons in mass are already doubled capacity and the federal government said NO to more prisons in mass as mass ships them out to Texas.
And just how many strikes have you had already?
How many strikes have you had?
As a kid growing up my dad would take me deep sea fishing every year. There are islands off the coast that you could build a giant prison Alcatraz style and take these dirt bags off the streets.
The country is in insurmountable debt! They could double your tax and still be in debt. This debt may even take us into war with China!
They are cutting police budgets across the nation. There are murder/suicides on the rise everywhere.
Three strikes and you are out "sounds good" and that is all it does! This law brings about more killings of police, guards and citizens.
It is like the armored car law that puts guys in prison for life. All this did was force the robbers to kill all the employees in order to get rid of testimony that could put them away for life.
You are not realistic as you only offer jingles and themes instead of common sense! Judges across the nation have been handling things just fine. You are overstepping them in their professionalism! there is already laws such as career criminal laws that a judge can utilize to imprison someone for life.
Mandatory sentencing reverses any attempt at rehabilitation. Put a drug dealer in prison under a mandatory sentence and they attend ZERO rehabilitation programs! So when they get out they just attempt to be a better drug dealer.
People do not go for rehabilitation programs because the results are not evident due to the fact that they are working! No crime is taking place amoung the rehabilitated!
Your hardline has NEVER worked in society! People are becomming alarmingly desperate and despondent in society by the masses and you don't even see it coming! Citizens want to work!!!
If you could guarantee me 20 jobs today I could fill them by the afternoon!! The opportunity is not there and the control over society is becomming strained!
People who are employed are fortunate.
Murder rates are on the decline...
And this is an interesting tid-bit from the linked article.
"Mandatory-sentencing rules, such as "three strikes" laws that have spread to states including California, Florida, and Pennsylvania since 1993, have had a positive impact on crime rates. But Fox of Northeastern suggests that the cost of incarcerating more Americans has other less-desirable effects."
Here's another article that disputes your flawed claim...
And a link to he FBI report showing the decline in violent crime.
So continue on with your misiinformation and laughable hypotesis while those of us based in reality read the truth. Your anectdotal evidence is just that, anectdotal. The few examples you provide contradict what we know to be the truth.
But keep stomping your feet and denying the truth, we wouldn't expect you to admit when you're wrong.
Are you insane voter? You're trying to have a rational debate with someone who named themself 'Vengence seeker'. If you disagree he will say you are not a good Christian. I had no idea that what 'Good Christians' do is go out and seek vengence, I thought it was just the opposite.
You are right, as soon as these criminals get out of jail they commit another crime. I say the police should shoot a criminal on sight and let GOD sort them out. A bullet is cheaper than sendidng a habitual rapist to prison just so he can get out and do it again.
Why waste the bullet? It is a shame Alcatraz was closed...put them on an island and surround the island with technology that makes it impossible for them to leave...if they try, they die. They can become their own self-sufficient degenerate society...women on one island, men on another so they can't breed, so their own mortality takes care of the problem for us.
Just think, our prisons wouldn't be so over-crowded, we wouldn't have to feed and cloth them and listen to them whine about not having all the comforts of home, and no parole...the parole system is a joke.
He is getting really scary. He hates cops, and those in authority, like university presidents and now he is going after Christians all because of the Chick-fil-a thing in the news. I am not sure who he is talking to or who he THINKS he is talking to, but he is way off balance. I hope he stays down in that cellar.
Another thread, another time Lynch gets schooled on how very wrong and out of touch with reality he really is. Lunch presents his opinion as fact an along comes a poster who link to articles, reports and statistics that totally debunk the bike that Lynch is spewing.
You're a natural leader Lynch. Everything that comes out of your mouth is BS.
And everyone here can see that, but he keeps going on and on and on. No one buys into anything he has to say, but he still rambles.
You are just an idiot! Yea, just rough them up...ect... Brute force causes reactions you idiot! Your get tough on crime still hasn't worked, check other states!
In your life time, I am positive that you will end up shooting someone as you desire it too much!
What makes you better than the next guy? Please tell me! You are a big mouth, you get people going by slinging insults at them. Someone ends up punching you in that open mouth of yours and you have them put in jail.
You have false courage! You are a very selfish old man. You point fingers at everyone. Your solution to everything that you don't like is "kill them"or "lock them up and throw away the key".
Sounds easy enough for you, huh?? You are the real POS!!
What if the other guy has a gun? I say everyone arrested should bring their case to trial so the courts get over riden with cases.
War with China is becomming more likely by the day. We need all of our resources to fight the Chinese.
The laws just are not tough enough. For example if the court did the right thing and locked up a murderer for life he would never have the chance to stalk a man assault him and threaten the lives of the mans family.
what does China have to do with anything? I think you need to take some ritalin.
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