Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is proposing legislation today relaxing minimum mandatory sentences for all drug offenders – including violent traffickers – as part of a sweeping package of crime legislation, the Boston Herald reports. Drug offenders serving minimum mandatory sentences would be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence. Patrick had favored giving discretion to judges, and limiting early release to nonviolent offenders who did not commit crimes with minors and hadn't been recently released from jail.
After consulting with prosecutors, Patrick decided that the state parole board can adequately determine whether dangerous drug dealers should be released. While relaxing sentencing, Patrick would require all state prison inmates to be supervised after they get out for a period of up to 25 percent of their sentence. His proposal would allow drug offenders serving mandatory-minimum sentences to participate in work-release programs, an idea opposed by correction officers.