Although the habitual criminal bill, also called the "three-strikes bill" or "Melissa's Law," overwhemlingly passed both the House and Senate this week, with support by West Roxbury's legislators - some Boston-area legislators voted against what they called am imbalanced bill.
The bill eliminates parole for felons convicted three times of one of 40 or so violent crimes, with at least one conviction having carried a minimum three-year prison term. It also reduces some mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. .
Many of those voting against it are members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus, who said the bill lacks evidence-based solutions, removes judicial discretion, and does not elimination mandatory minimums on nonviolent offenses. They also say the bill will cost the state more than $100 million over the next 10 to 15 years.
One of those voting with the caucus was Boston's Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who represents all or part of the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, Dorchester, Fenway, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roxbury and the South End.
The bill now heads to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk; he has until July 31 to act on it. Patrick has said he is disappointed that the bill does not allow judges to grant felons the opportunity for parole after they serve the majority of their sentence. Still, he called the bill a "good faith step in the right direction," according to the Boston Globe.
For more on how Boston legislators voted, see the table below. Click here for the full list of House votes. The seven state senators who voted against it are Chang-Diaz, William Brownsberger, Cynthia Creem, James B. Eldridge, Susan Fargo, Patricia D. Jehlen and Dan Wolf.
Rep. Marty Walz D-Boston 8th Suffolk Yes Rep. Aaron Michlewitz
D-Boston 3rd Suffolk Yes Rep. Byron Rushing D-Boston (South End) 9th Suffolk No Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez D-Jamaica Plain 15th Suffolk Yes Rep. Elizabeth Malia D-Jamaica Plain 11th Suffolk Yes Rep. Russell E. Holmes D-Boston 6th Suffolk No Rep. Edward Coppinger D-Boston 10th Suffolk Yes Rep. Nick Collins D-Boston 4th Suffolk Yes Rep. Carlo Basile D-East Boston 1st Suffolk Yes Sen. Michael F. Rush D-West Roxbury Suffolk and Norfolk Yes Sen. Jack Hart D-Boston First Suffolk Yes Sen. Anthony Petruccelli D-East Boston First Suffolk and Middlesex Yes Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz D-Boston Second Suffolk