For Immediate Release - May 07, 2009

PATRICK ADMINSTRATION TO FILE BILLS TO STRENGTHEN PUBLIC SAFETY

Anti-Crime Bills Will Require Post-Release Supervision, and Improve Employment Opportunities

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BOSTON- Thursday, May 07, 2009 - Continuing Governor Deval Patrick's efforts to strengthen public safety, improve delivery and reform operations of state government, Public Safety Secretary Kevin M. Burke today announced the Patrick-Murray Administration will be filing bills to require post-release supervision for offenders and enhance employment opportunities for rehabilitated individuals with criminal records.

"If we want to reduce crime and help people re-integrate successfully, this is a smarter approach to strengthen our public safety system, while helping ex-offenders rehabilitate and get back to work," said Governor Patrick. "Crime and violence affects every community, and we must all be a part of the solution."

Nearly a thousand ex-offenders in Massachusetts leave state correctional institutions unsupervised each year due to legal restrictions on sentencing, and facing steep challenges to re-integrate into communities without guidance. Countless studies show that without supervision, ex-offenders are much more likely to recidivate - increasing crime, victimizing more people and placing higher costs on our correctional system.

"Each year, thousands of inmates return home from incarceration without proper guidance and support - including access to employment and housing opportunities," said Secretary Burke. "Data shows that without supervision ex-offenders are twice as likely to return to jail, while those who successfully complete parole supervision are much less likely to be re-arrested. It's clear the initiatives filed today will help us improve public safety in the Commonwealth."

The Governor's legislation requires mandatory supervision for all inmates released from state custody, allows more offenders to participate in community work programs, and brings balance and equity to the criminal offender record information (CORI) system. Details of the legislation include:

 

  • Mandatory Post-Release Supervision : Inmates who serve a state prison sentence and are scheduled to be released to the street will be under mandatory supervision by the Parole Board for a period equal to 25% of their sentence, but no shorter than 9 months and no longer than 5 years.
    Read the legislation as filed.

 

  • Sentencing Reform for Drug Crimes : Provides that defendants sentenced to mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes will be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the maximum sentence. For example, a defendant serving a sentence of three years to three years and a day will be eligible for parole after serving two years of his sentence, but a defendant serving a term of 10 to 15 years will be parole eligible after 10 years. Drug offenders serving minimum mandatory sentences will be permitted to participate in work release and community corrections programs.
    Read the legislation as filed.

 

  • CORI Reform : Tightening the administration of the criminal offender record information (CORI) system and providing all employers and housing providers with accurate and affordable records. The proposal would also eliminate access to stale records of ex-offenders who have proven they are not likely to recidivate; and give individuals applying for jobs and housing more control over how they are considered by receiving notice of someone reviewing their criminal record and provided the right to contest the accuracy and relevance of those records. A portion of the fees paid by employers and housing providers who seek to access CORI will fund re-entry and job training programs.
    Read the legislation as filed.

The announcement comes a day after the Patrick Administration filed pieces of anti crime legislation, which includes making it a felony to possess a gun while committing certain crimes that might otherwise be misdemeanors, subjecting gun offenders to pre-trial detention if they are found to present a danger to their community, and removing a requirement for state prosecutors to prove a gun is operable to be considered a firearm - a change that will bring state law in line with federal regulations.

The legislation also tightens the law governing who may handle machine guns, such as those fired at gun clubs and shooting ranges, and reforms state law to comply with improvements in a federal database that tracks defendants' criminal histories.

"I am very pleased to support the Governor's Crime Bill. It reflects his commitment to making CORI reform and successful re-entry programs a statewide priority and gives the Commonwealth's Sheriffs, the DOC and the Parole Board the flexibility we need to deal more appropriately with non-violent offenders," said Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. "We can and should work as hard on ways to reduce recidivism as we do on holding offenders accountable in the first place. Accountability alone provides only half of what safer communities need. What this bill provides - post-release supervision, the use of effective re-entry programs, appropriate access to and fair use of CORI information - completes the public safety continuum."

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