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Legislation as Filed
Please note: Below you will find the legislation as filed by Governor Patrick. After being filed, bills are sent to the Massachusetts legislature where they may be amended or altered.
Text of Filing Letter
May 7, 2009
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:
I am filing for your consideration the attached bill entitled, "An Act To Prevent Crime and Reduce Recidivism by Increasing Supervision and Training Opportunities for Inmates."
A report recently completed by the Massachusetts Parole Board offers stark proof that post-release supervision of prison inmates reduces crime. The study found that more than 35% of inmates released from a state or county sentence in 2006 with no post-release supervision had returned to a Massachusetts prison by July 31, 2008, whereas only 17% of parolees discharged from parole supervision in 2006 were returned to prison in the same time frame. This bill calls for mandatory post-release parole supervision of state prison inmates who would otherwise return to their communities without any supervision or assistance.
But it is not enough to supervise ex-offenders after release from prison - it is essential to offer the most appropriate targeted services and training opportunities to inmates based on data-driven risk assessments while they are still incarcerated. The Controlled Substances Act, Chapter 94C, currently prevents even non-violent inmates serving mandatory minimum terms for drug offenses, whose custodians would otherwise find them eligible, from participating in work release and other programs. Access to these programs is necessary to create opportunities for these individuals and to break the cycle of crime. This bill removes the statutory impediment that prevents these offenders from having access to work release programs under the control and supervision of prison authorities.
In addition, while mandatory minimum sentences are intended to guarantee uniform, certain, and transparent punishment for serious crimes, the mandatory minimum sentences in Chapter 94C sometimes result in non-violent offenders serving lengthy sentences in prison, at great cost to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, that are disproportionate to the risk that these individuals pose to the community. This bill provides that defendants sentenced to mandatory minimums for drug crimes will be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their maximum sentence.
The attached summary provides the details and background for each section of the bill. I urge your favorable consideration of this legislation.
Text of Bill
An Act To Prevent Crime and Reduce Recidivism by Increasing Supervision and Training Opportunities for Inmates
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 5 of chapter 27 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- The parole board shall administer and oversee mandatory post-release supervision functions as set forth in section 133D(a) of chapter 127 and in chapter 127A.
SECTION 2. Section 32H of chapter 94C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the second paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following 2 paragraphs:-
A person convicted of violating any provisions of said sections shall not, until he shall have served the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment established in said sections, be eligible for probation, furlough or receive any deduction from his sentence for good conduct under sections 129C and 129D of chapter 127; provided, however, that the commissioner of correction may, on the recommendation of the warden, superintendent or other person in charge of the correctional institution, grant to said offender a temporary release, subject to the rules and regulations of the institution and under the direction, control and supervision of the officers thereof, for the following purposes: to attend the funeral of a relative, to visit a critically ill relative, to obtain emergency medical or psychiatric services unavailable at said institution; to participate in education, training, or employment programs established under section 48 of chapter 127; to engage in employment pursuant to a work release program in accordance with the provisions of sections 49 and 49A of chapter 127; or to participate in a program to provide services under sections 49B of chapter 127. The provisions of section 87 of chapter 276 shall not apply to any person, 17 years of age or over, charged with a violation of said sections, or to any child between age 14 and 17 so charged by indictment under section 54 of chapter 119.
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a person convicted of violating any provisions of sections 32, 32A, 32B, 32E, 32F, or 32J, who is serving a sentence where two-thirds of the maximum term of imprisonment imposed is less than the mandatory minimum sentence required under that section, shall be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the maximum term of imprisonment imposed.
SECTION 3. Section 133D of chapter 127 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "under", in line 2, the following words:- section 178H of chapter 6 or
SECTION 4. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 127 the following chapter:-
MANDATORY POST-RELEASE SUPERVISION
Section 1. All sentences of incarceration to state prison shall include a period of post-release supervision, excluding sentences for those prisoners for whom parole eligibility is determined by section 133 of chapter 127. Except as provided in this chapter, for individuals who complete the incarceration portion of their sentences without supervised release or are re-incarcerated for the remainder of the sentence for violating the terms of parole or probation, the period of mandatory post-release supervision shall be 25 per cent of the maximum term of incarceration imposed at sentencing up to a maximum period of supervision of 5 years, but in no case less than 9 months. Where an individual is sentenced to incarceration on multiple offenses to be served concurrently, the greater of the maximum terms imposed at sentencing shall be used to calculate the mandatory post-release supervision period. Mandatory post-release supervision as established in this chapter shall not be imposed upon any individual who successfully completes a period of probation imposed by a court at sentencing, upon an individual who is granted a parole permit under chapter 127 and successfully completes a period of parole supervision, or upon an individual sentenced to lifetime community parole under section 45 of chapter 265 or section 178H of chapter 6, being supervised under section 133D of chapter 127. An individual subject to this chapter may be supervised in another jurisdiction in accordance with sections 151A through 151N of chapter 127 and shall be considered on parole for the purposes of supervision.
Section 2. Upon release, an individual sentenced to a term of incarceration in a state prison for any length of time shall be subject to the supervision and jurisdiction of the parole board during the period of mandatory post-release supervision and shall be subject to the law, rules and regulations governing parole. The chairman of the parole board shall establish regulations for post-release supervision consistent with applicable provisions of chapters 27 and 127. The regulations shall establish supervision levels based on risk-needs assessments, ranging from minimum parole supervision for low-risk parolees to maximum parole supervision of high-risk parolees, with a focus on reducing the risk posed by high-risk parolees. The regulations shall include the use of graduated and intermediate sanctions as appropriate in response to non-criminal violations of parole conditions and, in the discretion of the board, for low-level criminal violations. Nothing in this section or in said regulations shall limit the authority of the superior, municipal, district or juvenile court to impose conditions of probation supervision to protect the public or promote the rehabilitation of any person.
Section 3. An individual subject to mandatory post-release supervision who has successfully completed 9 months of supervision shall be eligible for early termination of that supervision. Early termination shall only occur in accordance with procedures to be adopted in the regulations of the parole board. In proceedings for early termination of mandatory post-release supervision, the parole board's considerations shall include, but not be limited to, the amount of time the individual has successfully spent under post-release supervision, efforts and achievements in the areas of employment, housing, education, counseling, substance abuse treatment and required testing programs, and any other circumstances that are relevant to the individual case.
Section 4. An individual who violates a condition of mandatory post-release supervision shall be subject to this section and to modification or revocation proceedings initiated by the parole board. The laws and regulations governing parole violation proceedings shall govern these modification or revocation proceedings. In all proceedings under this section, an individual who violates a condition of mandatory post-release supervision may be placed under increased supervision, subjected to other conditions and intermediate sanctions, or incarcerated for not more than the maximum remaining period of post-release supervision or the remaining unserved portion of the sentence, whichever is greater, if the violation does not otherwise constitute a criminal offense. In all cases where the individual is not being incarcerated for a violation, the individual shall be subject to the graduated sanctions policy of the parole board.. In the case of any violation for use of controlled substances or an offense for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol where the individual is not incarcerated for the violation, the period of mandatory post-release supervision may be extended to accommodate an appropriate substance abuse program, but the total shall not exceed the maximum supervisory period permitted under section 1. For any violation of the conditions of mandatory post-release supervision, the period of supervision shall be stayed during a period of incarceration and it shall be resumed upon release. If the violation constitutes a criminal offense, the period of incarceration shall be served on and after any sentence received as a result of the new offense. Upon subsequent release, the greater of the maximum sentences of the original offense and subsequent offense shall be used to calculate the new mandatory post-release supervision period.
Section 5. Mandatory post-release supervision shall be considered stayed under the following circumstances: (a) the individual is immediately committed to the custody of any other state or of the United States to serve a period of incarceration less than the post-release supervision period required under this chapter; (b) the individual is immediately committed to the custody of the United States immigration authorities; or (c) the individual is committed pursuant to an order of custody under chapter 123A.
Section 6. Mandatory post-release supervision shall be considered completed under the following circumstances: (a) except as provided in section 4, the individual serves a post-release supervision period of 25 per cent of the maximum term of incarceration imposed at sentencing up to a maximum period of supervision of 5 years, but in no case less than 9 months; (b) the individual is granted early termination under section 3; (c) upon completion of the sentence, the individual is immediately committed to the custody of any other state or of the United States to serve a period of incarceration greater than or equal to the post-release supervision period required under this chapter; or (d) upon completion of the sentence, the individual is physically removed from the United States by immigration authorities for the purpose of permanent deportation.
SECTION 5. Chapter 127A of the General Laws, as inserted by section 4, shall apply to all felonies committed on or after the effective date of this act.
SECTION 6. Chapter 265 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out section 45 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 45. Any person convicted of violating section 13B, 13B1/2, 13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 22B, 23, 23A, 24, 24B or 26 of this chapter or of an attempt to violate any of such sections pursuant to section 6 of chapter 274, after one or more prior convictions of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older, assault of a child with intent to commit rape, rape of a child with force, aggravated rape of a child with force, rape and abuse of a child, aggravated rape and abuse of a child, rape, aggravated rape, assault with intent to commit rape, unnatural and lascivious acts, drugging for sex, kidnap or of any offense which is the same as or necessarily includes the same elements of said offense shall, in addition to the term of imprisonment authorized by such section, be punished by a term of community parole supervision for life, to be served under the jurisdiction of the parole board, as set forth in section 133D of chapter 127. The sentence of community parole supervision for life shall commence immediately upon the expiration of the term of imprisonment imposed upon such person by the court or upon such person's release from probation supervision or upon discharge from commitment to the treatment center pursuant to section 9 of chapter 123A, whichever first occurs.
SECTION 7. Section 18 of chapter 275 of the General Laws is hereby repealed.
SECTION 8. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 32, 32A, 32B, 32E, 32F, and 32J of chapter 94C of the General Laws, or any other general or special law to the contrary, a person serving a mandatory minimum sentence for violating the above referenced sections as of July 1, 2009, who is serving a sentence where two-thirds of the maximum term of imprisonment imposed is less than the mandatory minimum sentence required under that section, shall be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the maximum term of imprisonment imposed.