Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, under intense pressure from police and from victims' relatives, said Tuesday that he would sign legislation that removes the possibility of parole for certain repeat offenders, even though he believes the bill does not give judges enough flexibility in sentencing, says the Boston Globe. “It's not a perfect bill, it's not a comprehensive bill, but it does some good,” Patrick told reporters.
The bill was opposed by many of the governor's closest allies, including liberals and African-American activists and lawmakers. Some said they were stunned that he decided to sign it. They had believed that Patrick, the state's first black governor and a former member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, would veto legislation that they argued would exacerbate an incarceration crisis among black men and lead to untold prison costs. The legislation removes the possibility of parole for offenders who commit three serious, violent felonies, such as murder, rape, and home invasion. The offenders would have to serve at least three years in state prison for one of the felonies to count as a “strike” against them. At the same time, it makes some nonviolent drug offenders eligible for parole.