Legislature Passes Three-Strikes Bill for Violent Crimes
Danvers' State Rep. Ted Speliotis supported the bill, which both aims to ensure violent criminals stay behind bars while easing prison overcrowding by reducing drug-offense penalties.
A bill that toughens sentences for violent repeat-offenders passed the Senate Thursday after having been overwhelmingly in the House on Wednesday evening.
The so-called "three-strikes" law eliminates parole for someone convicted three times of one of 40 or so violent crimes, with at least one conviction having carried a minimum three-year prison term. It passed the House with a vote of 139-14. In the Senate, it passed 31-7.
State Representative Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) voted in support of the bill.
The movement to pass the law was fueled, in part, by outrage over two crimes. In one, Woburn police officer Jack Maguire was murdered by a felon. In the other crime more associated with the law, sometimes dubbed "Melissa's Law," 27-year-old Jamaica Plain schoolteacher Melissa Gosule was murdered in 1999 after being raped and murdered by a felon who had 27 previous convictions. Gosule grew up in Randolph.
While cracking down on violent criminals, the bill passed last night eases mandatory sentencing on nonviolent drug offenses, in part to take the strain off overcrowded prisons. It also reduces the size of school zones, inside which drug activity carries a larger penalty, since most urban areas fall largely within these zones.
The bill now heads to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk; he has until July 31 to act on it. Patrick has said he is disappointed that the bill does not allow judges to grant felons the opportunity for parole after they serve the majority of their sentence. Still, he called the bill a "good faith step in the right direction,"according to the Boston Globe.