Thursday, Jul. 19, 2012
Habitual Offender Bill heads to the Senate
Following House approval yesterday, the Senate is today expected
to take up long-awaited habitual offender legislation.
The compromise was brokered over eight months by a joint
conference committee of the House and Senate, charged with
negotiating the differences between the bills passed by both
branches in late 2011. The compromise language calls for a
reduction in school zones from 1,000 to 300 feet, which the
Massachusetts Bar Association supports. It also alters mandatory
minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenses by raising
drug amounts and lowering some of the sentences -- but falls short
of the additional mandatory minimum reform being sought by the MBA
and many others. Several key legislators have indicated their
desire to revisit mandatory minimum sentences in the new
legislative session beginning in January including House Judiciary
Chairman and Conference Committee Co-Chair Rep. Gene O'Flaherty
(D-Chelsea), Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) and Rep. Brad Hill
(R-Ipswich) as well as Gov. Deval L. Patrick.
The habitual offender piece of the bill covers approximately 40
crimes. Felons sentenced for at least three years for one of the
qualifying crimes would trigger the three strikes provisions. For
felons serving two life sentences or for felons who get a third
strike, parole eligibility will be eliminated.
Following the anticipated passage by the Senate today, the bill
will head to Patrick's desk. In an appearance on WHBH's Greater
Boston, Patrick said "It is not a bad bill, it's just not as good
as it could have been."
To see the conference committee's