Parole Board Chair Wall addresses MBA delegates

Issue May 2012 By Tricia M. Oliver

Massachusetts Parole Board Chairman Joshua Wall was a guest speaker at the March 22 meeting of the House of Delegates, the Massachusetts Bar Association's governing body. The meeting was held at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Wall shared perspective and insight gained in the 13 months since assuming his leadership post following Gov. Deval Patrick's dismissal of all but one member of the former board.

Prior to the controversy of granting parole to Dominic Cinelli, a career criminal accused of murdering Woburn officer John McGuire during a botched robbery, the Massachusetts Parole Board acted in "near anonymity," Wall said. However, he was quick to point out early in his remarks that "we are not, nor have we been, involved in a 'crackdown' on parole" in the commonwealth.

As directed by the governor, Wall's goals have been building a more productive, efficient parole system and paying more careful attention to parolees who have committed murder and those with lengthy, serious criminal records.

Wall explained that he has worked to change the culture at the Parole Board. "We are going to do something better," he said.

Commending Patrick's choices for the other members comprising the board, Wall pointed out that he is the first chair with experience in managing a government agency. Wall, 52, is a veteran Suffolk County prosecutor. He began working in the Suffolk District Attorney's Office in 1993 and served as chief of the Child Protection Unit, Major Felony Unit and Senior Trial Unit. When District Attorney Daniel F. Conley took office in 2002, he promoted Wall to the position of first assistant and supervisor of all Superior Court prosecutions.

On the current Parole Board, Wall is joined by a forensic psychologist and a corrections professional, among others with highly relevant experience. He said that having this caliber of expertise has been significantly beneficial to improving the board and its practices.

He also stressed the amount and level of training undertaken by the group. According to Wall, by June 1, the complete board will have participated in 50 trainings. Said Wall, "We are not just picking parolees, we are trying to make sure they succeed," following re-entry into society.

In addition to Wall's remarks, MBA delegates were greeted by UMass Lowell Provost Ahmed Abdelal. Abdelal explained that UMass Lowell has invested nearly $300 million in construction recently, a sign that the campus is getting stronger. He said UMass Lowell is "less expensive and better that many of the places that we think about."

The provost also spoke to the international focus of the university. "We want our students to be globally knowledgeable and prepared," he said.

Other items discussed at the March 22 meeting included an informational report from chairs of the MBA Task Force on Law, the Economy and Underemployment; approval of the proposed slate of 2012 Access to Justice Awardees; a vote in favor of the MBA submitting an amicus brief relative to a case involving judicial privilege now before the Supreme Judicial Court; and a vote against supporting in principle the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.