Patrick to send Melissa’s Bill back to lawmakers for amendment

Bill would bar parole for career criminals after third strike

UPDATED 3:24 PM EDT Jul 28, 2012
BOSTON -Governor Deval Patrick said Saturday that he will send a crime bill back to the Legislature with an amendment that would allow parole in some cases for repeat violent offenders convicted under the legislation’s so-called three strikes provision.

The bill, named Melissa’s Bill, that lawmakers approved earlier this month would bar parole for career criminals after a third violent crime. But Patrick wants to give state judges limited discretion to allow such criminals to be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the maximum prison sentence, or after serving 25 years of a life sentence.

Patrick’s office announced on Saturday that he will send the bill back to the Legislature with an amendment.

“I do not send this bill back to you lightly. I recognize that the time remaining is short in this formal legislative session, and there are many who would like to see this bill signed into law in its present form. Nevertheless, I believe that this single change would significantly improve this bill,” Patrick said in a statement.

Les Gosule, who co-authored the legislation, told News Center 5 Saturday morning that any amendment would destroy the impact of the bill.

Gosule is the father of Melissa Gosule, who was raped and murdered by a 27-time convicted violent criminal. He spent less than two years in prison before the state released him.

On Thursday, Patrick said on News Center 5’s weekly political show “OTR” that he was not thrilled with the bill.

“There is a lot to like in the bill, but it is not a great bill,” Patrick said. “A trend to put the entire judicial system on automatic pilot is a mistake,” said the governor. He said the lack of judicial discretion is a problem.

The state’s top judge, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, told Patrick on Thursday that the “three strikes” provision failed to give judges any discretion in the sentencing of violent felons.