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January 4, 2011

Officer killing in Massachusetts stirring debate over parole policies

As highlighted in this Boston Globe story, which is headlined "Outrage, restraint on parole inquiry; Governor, speaker differ on response to officer’s slaying," a high-profile killing by a (now-dead) paroled offender is stirring sentencing policy debate in Massachusetts. Here are the basics:

Governor Deval Patrick, facing widespread anger from police chiefs and victims’ advocates, pleaded for patience yesterday as his administration completes a review of the state Parole Board’s decision to free a violent career criminal who shot and killed a Woburn police officer last week.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, however, expressed outrage at the board’s decision and vowed to make it a “major focus" of legislative action in the new session.

Appearing minutes apart on the third floor of the State House, the two leaders struck dramatically different postures as they spoke for the first time since the parolee, Dominic Cinelli, killed Officer John B. Maguire during a botched robbery of a Kohl’s department store on Dec. 26....

The Cinelli case has incensed many police officers and victims’ advocates, who have said that someone with his long criminal history should never have been freed. Several chiefs have said that the case has seriously shaken public confidence in the state’s parole system.

DeLeo said he was troubled not only that Cinelli was freed but that the Parole Board failed to notify prosecutors before Cinelli’s parole hearing. Cinelli, 57, who was killed during a shootout with Woburn police, had a history of drug problems, and a criminal record dating to his teenage years that included violent robberies and the shooting of a security guard.

But the Parole Board voted 6-0 to release him, saying he had not had disciplinary problems in nearly 10 years, had been performing well in substance abuse treatment programs, and was “conducting his life in a positive manner."

January 4, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

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This case is anecdotal evidence that the status of a prisoner does not change. He continues to have antisocial personality disorder, but in the structured setting of the prison, he can learn to perform better. On the outside he likely ran up the felony meter to whirring speed, with 100's of crimes a year. The lawyer protected this career criminal so he could destroy the lives of hundreds of people, including those of his family. Had he been put to death at 18, or even at 14 (likely his criminal behavior began at age 3), $millions in damages could have been saved, and the lives of so many of the public around him spared the cruelty of exposure to him.

In 123D, the count should begin at 14, the point of biological adulthood. After Graham, the Supreme Court has expressed its bias in favor of the vicious career predator. The entire Court should be sacked, impeached for that decision, and not for any collateral corruption or other lawyer gotcha. The Congress must protect the public from these irresponsible lawyers on the Supreme Court, and eventually exclude all lawyers from all benches.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 4, 2011 3:48:47 PM

lol could also say it's proof that once he was tossed into a society that has no forgivness in it's heart where he's considered less than dirt and will ALWAYS be less than dirt with no help no support and probably released without a dime in his pocket with no where to live or get anything to eat....he did only thing he knew how to do...CRIME

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 4, 2011 4:05:48 PM

I noticed that the Massachussets Parole Board consists of 7 politically appointed members who serve five year terms. Only one of the members was in office when Cinelli had his parole hearing in 2005 when he was denied parole based one the prosecutor's strong stance against parole.

The inmate's hearing in 2008 that ultimately lead to his release should have been continued until the prosecutor once again had an opportunity to appear.

This tragedy also speaks to the absolute need for a professionally appointed parole staff which insures continuity of operations and procedures.

Posted by: mjs | Jan 4, 2011 4:46:08 PM

rodsmith --

Does "tossed into society" mean "paroled as he insistently requested"?

And as to the "society that has no forgiveness in its heart," the actual problem was an excessive, if not insanely excessive, degree of forgiveness.

I notice our usual large batch of compassion mongers are notably quiet about this one. My, my.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 4, 2011 5:29:48 PM

Compassion? What 'compassion'? Having experienced this 'compassion' myself I have some concerns about using this term to describe it. But, perhaps you, who have never experienced it know best.
What resources are available and how useful, real-world useful, are they? Have you any idea? I do. They aren't. Unless there is some net-work...it can be incredibly difficult to even gain employment. At the age and with the record of this person? With no more help than is available? Ha! To have anyone make it through is remarkable and speaks well of the individual who does. What is even more remarkable is how many do. Of course , you who know best will never mention them or even acknowledge their effort or successes, eh?
What was it Mr. Manson said? "If you don't like me quit making more of me". Or words to that effect.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Jan 8, 2011 7:28:53 AM

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