More than a third of the most serious criminal offenders paroled in Massachusetts over the past five years were returned to prison for committing new crimes or violating the conditions of their release, reports the Boston Globe. This raises questions about the public risk posed by granting early release to scores of convicted murderers, as well as the state's ability to supervise violent criminals on parole.
The Globe analysis, undertaken after last December's fatal shooting of a Woburn police officer by a career criminal on parole from a life sentence, found that the Parole Board freed 201 prisoners serving 15 years to life from January 2006 through December 2010. Thirty of the parolees, or 14.9 percent, were returned to prison after being accused of committing new crimes, including murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, as well as less serious offenses such as assault and drunken driving. An additional 39, or 19.4 percent, were sent back because of parole violations such as failing a drug test. The analysis contradicts a widely held belief in criminal justice circles: that lifers are less likely than other parolees to return to prison because they tend to be older and face the risk of resuming a life sentence if they violate the conditions of their release.