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Senate Preparing to Tighten Parole Rules

In the last few weeks the Massachusetts Senate began reviewing legislation which is designed to tighten parole eligibility rules for repeat violent offenders.

So far this year the legislature has considered proposals to prohibit parole eligibility for three-time violent felons and criminals sentenced to more than one life term, requiring offenders who are serving a life sentence to serve a minimum of 25 years before qualifying for parole, requiring both prosecutors and victims to receive advance notice of parole hearings, to establish procedures for removing parole board members for cause and to require the parole hearing outcomes to be posted on the internet.

The main thrust of the newest bill will be to limit the parole eligibility for repeat offenders.

According to OnPolitix, “Currently in Massachusetts, convicted felons are eligible for parole after serving half of their sentence, except for first-degree murderers, who are not eligible for parole. Those convicted of second degree murder must serve 15 years of a life sentence before they are eligible for parole.

The bill pushed by the Republican lawmakers would eliminate any chance for parole for those convicted of a third felony. The governor’s proposal would allow those convicted of a third felony to serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.

Opponents of mandatory sentencing argued that the language in both Melissa’s bill and the governor’s bill is too broad, and does not limit the sentencing guidelines to only violent felons. Many felony drug convictions would fall within the proposed law, opponents said.”

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