BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Governor Deval Patrick has returned a crime bill, also known as Melissa’s bill, to the Legislature that excludes 3-time convicted felons from getting parole. Patrick says the bill needs to be balanced and should give judge’s the option to offer parole to felons under “limited” circumstances.
“It’s not about letting anybody off. The question is whether after serving a significant amount of time there are circumstances where a third time felon ought to be eligible for parole,” said Patrick.
But House Speaker Robert DeLeo says this “safety valve” measure would water down the bill. He hopes the Legislature will reject the governor’s amendment and that Patrick will sign the bill anyway.
“I’m hopeful today,” said DeLeo. “If we can have some strong showing in both the House and the Senate [to reject the amendment] that the governor will possibly reconsider and sign the legislation.”
Lawmakers will have to move fast. If lawmakers reject the governor’s changes, the governor can sign or veto the bill. If things aren’t resolved by Tuesday night, lawmakers will recess for the summer and the bill will die – which is not an option for Les Gosule, whose daughter Melissa was raped and murdered by a habitual violent offender.
“Now the time has come to do one simple thing: Pass the bill. Whatever changes there have to be, do it next year. How many innocent people have to get hurt?” said Gosule.
On top of Melissa’s bill, lawmakers have other unfinished business on big issues like health care payment reform, energy and economic development. With less than 31 hours to go, the Legislature may not have enough time to get through it all.
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