We promised to keep you updated on how sentencing reform legislation (and a new habitual offender provision) were moving along in Massachusetts. The state legislature made its choice; now, it's the governor's turn to respond. And he has!
FAMM applauds Gov. Patrick for providing leadership on this critical sentencing issue. We urge the Legislature to pass the amendment and send the improved bill back to the Governor for his signature. The Governor’s amendment would allow judges to make someone who receives a maximum "third strike" sentence eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the sentence if there are "substantial and compelling reasons" to do so. In no way does this amendment gut the bill. Habitual offenders would still receive the lengthiest sentence possible for their third offense. But one-size-fits-all sentences of any kind will always result in unfair sentences for some. With maximum sentences, including life without parole, the stakes are even higher. Eligibility for parole offers at least some relief from a maximum sentence when that sentence is excessive.
For more information on Massachusetts’ mandatory sentencing laws, or FAMM’s perspective on the new sentencing law, please visit FAMM’s website, or contact me.
Barb Dougan, firstname.lastname@example.org
FAMM Massachusetts Project Director