Legislation in the Massachusetts Senate to overhaul the parole system would make it harder, if not impossible, for certain offenders to win early release and would sharply limit the discretion of the state Parole Board, reports the Boston Globe. But the measure proposed by a bipartisan group of senators would not go as far as some states have in recent years, often following heinous crimes by parolees. In Louisiana, for example, applicants are denied parole unless they win the unanimous approval of the board.
The Senate measure was filed in reaction to the case of Domenic Cinelli, a paroled career criminal who shot and killed Woburn police officer John Maguire on Dec. 26 during a jewelry heist. If enacted, the bill would significantly change parole practices and might have unintended consequences. A provision that would make some habitual offenders ineligible for supervised parole, for example, could be applied to many nonviolent inmates and worsen prison overcrowding, experts say. Another provision, to increase the minimum number of years that offenders would have to serve for second-degree murder from 15 to 25, would probably cause more defendants to take their cases to trial rather than accept prosecutors' offers to plead guilty — and perhaps clog the court system.