Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, concerned that hundreds of state prison inmates are released without parole supervision each year, will seek to make parole mandatory for all inmates Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey told the Boston Globe that the recommendation will be made this week by a panel appointed by Romney to study the state criminal justice system.
Healey hopes the plan wins support from conservatives who favor ongoing monitoring of former inmates and by liberals, defense lawyers, and advocates for prisoners who may back a related initiative to increase rehabilitation services and programs for inmates behind bars. “It’s a misconception that we can’t be both tough on crime and provide services to prisoners,” Healey said.
The Globe has reported that because of changes during the 1990s requiring prisoners to serve out sentences, rather than be paroled, more inmates imprisoned for violent or sex offenses are now being released without supervision. Nearly 60 percent of inmates released from Massachusetts prisons leave without parole, three times higher than the national average. Those discharged from prison were more likely to commit new violent or sex crimes than those who were paroled.
Healey said Romney was looking to “reinvigorate” the role of parole in the Massachusetts criminal justice system. The new legislation would set parole terms for inmates based on the severity of their crimes and their conduct while in prison.
“We know that 97 percent of those in prison ultimately will be released, and we do the public great service in preparing [the inmates] for release,” Healey said.