Acting quickly after the resignations of five state parole board members and a crisis of confidence in public safety, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick proposed changes to state law that would increase the time served by third-time criminal offenders while tightening a variety of eligibility requirements for parole, the Boston Globe reports. If the changes had been in place in 2008, they would have made Domenic Cinelli ineligible for early release until 2030, when he would have been 76 years old. Cinelli, a career criminal who fatally shot Woburn police 0fficer John Maguire the day after Christmas, was released by the parole board in 2009 when he was 55.
Patrick acknowledged “a deep erosion in the public's confidence in the parole system,'' but he said “the reality remains that most people who spend time in prison will return to the community. A functioning parole system is essential to ensure effective reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals into society.'' Republicans said Patrick's proposal does not go far enough and vowed to continue pushing for passage of a bill known as Melissa's Law, which would require habitual offenders to serve their maximum sentences without the possibility of parole. “We're saying that these people have proven that they cannot be good citizens and need to serve their maximum sentences,'' said Representative Bradford Hill. “We've seen time and time again that these habitual offenders continue to re-offend once they're out of prison.'' The legislation is named for Melissa Gosule, a 27-year-old teacher who was killed in 1999 by a repeat offender who had served less than two years despite a record of 27 convictions.