One week after making it known he was unhappy with the “three strikes” bill passed by lawmakers, Governor Deval Patrick signed the crime bill Thursday in a “private ceremony,” according to Reuters.
Among other things, the law makes some repeat offenders subject to life sentences without parole and eliminates judicial discretion in some criminal cases.
Patrick initially took issue with the fact that judicial discretion was nearly removed by the bill, asking lawmakers to pass a “safety valve amendment” that would have given them at least some leeway in sentencing. But lawmakers rejected the amendment.
Patrick is holding out hope that they will address his concerns next year.
“I still believe there is a necessary role for judicial discretion when it comes to sentencing, and many of the advocates of this bill have pledged to support that next year,” he said to reporters.
One positive aspect of the bill is that it will make 580 current inmates eligible for parole. These are people convicted of non-violent drug offenses, whose incarceration has cost the state millions and will help reduce what Patrick has called the “warehousing of criminals,” according to the Boston Globe.
While lawmakers say the repeat-offender aspects of the law will only affect a few people each year, others aren’t convinced the harsh sentencing laws are worthwhile. As other states dismantle their three strikes laws, Massachusetts is ramping ours up.
Many of the governor’s supporters are critical of him signing the bill and expected something different from him. In particular, African-American lawmakers and activists, as well as liberals question how he could sign a bill that will disproportionately impact the African American community and increase prison costs.
As a repeat offender, you are always subject to stiffer penalties with every return trip to court. But this law makes some of those stiffer penalties far more severe. A mandatory life sentence is certainly nothing to balk at.
Although you may not be subject to a mandatory life sentence under the new three strikes law, any second or subsequent criminal charge should be treated very seriously. I may be able to help.
Contact my offices today to discuss your case and what can be done to potentially mitigate the possible consequences.