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Massachusetts Ruling on Lifetime Community Parole Leads to Offenders Being Released

Massachusetts's highest court ruled this week that the state's lifetime community parole law violates the state constitution prompting hundreds of offenders to be released from custody within the last two weeks.

The Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision on June 11, 2014 concluding that the statute creating lifetime community parole for sex offenders and certain other crimes violates the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government by giving sentencing authority to an executive branch (the Parole Board).  The Court found that under the state constitution only judges have the authority to impose additional jail time on offenders who have completed their original sentence.

Jeffrey Harris, a Boston attorney, said "The statute the court struck down allowed the parole board to do something they never should have been allowed to do under our state constitution: sentence and incarcerate people with no judge, no lawyer, and no due process.  The court reaffirmed that the judge does the sentencing in our system, not the parole board."

As many as 300 offenders jailed on community parole violations can seek immediate release due to the ruling.


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