Governor to Sign 'Three Strikes' Crime Bill
Patrick calls the bill "a good start."
Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday ended specualtion that he might kill the mandatory sentencing bill he had objected to but the Legislature supported.
Calling the bill "a good start," Patrick said he would sign it but wants to see changes made to it in the next legislative session.
"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 wrote on his website Tuesday. "The Senate President and the Speaker have pledged to return to the subject of mandatory minimum sentencing early in the next session. I take them at their word."
As it stands, the so-called "three strikes" bill, also dubbed "Melissa's Law" after a Jamaica Plain woman who was killed by a serial criminal, eliminates parole for someone convicted three times of one of 40 or so violent crimes, with at least one conviction having carried a minimum three-year prison term.
Patrick had criticized the bill for tying judges hands by restricting their ability to decide sentences on a case-by-case basis. On these grounds, he sent the bill back to the Legislature on Saturday asking for an amendment to allow for more judicial discretion. But both chambers were quick to answer the governor on Monday: No.
With the same bill back his desk Tuesday, the last day of the Legislative session, Patrick has the last word on its passage. Rather than veto a bill that enjoyed deep bipartisan support in both chambers, Patrick said he will sign what he indicated was a good but incomplete bill.
"The bill contains important parole reforms for those convicted of the worst crimes; but just as important are the parts of this bill that reform the sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders. Those changes start to move us away from the expensive and ineffective policy of warehousing non-violent drug offenders," Patrick wrote.