What’s the answer to MA Dismal Lifer Parole Rate?

parole

Picture curtesy of The Wrongful Convictions Blog

If you haven’t read my article about the Massachusetts Parole Board’s practice if not policy of throwing lifers under the bus, you might do that before you read this post. I am a firm believer that Parole Boards, as Innocence Project expert Phil Locke says, “operate in the shadow of the justice system.” And most people have no idea what is going on when someone comes up for parole, is refused parole, or spend time in prison after parole is granted waiting for release.

That’s why this particular case I wrote about in the Lowell Sun is so aggregregious. Please take a look. It begins:

“This week the Massachusetts Parole Board is meeting to redo regulations. One that should be at the top of its list is how to effectively parole prisoners who have some form of mental illness.

The United States now has 10 times more people in its prisons and jails than in its mental hospitals. As of 2013, approximately 25 percent of Massachusetts state prisoners (counties claim a much higher rate) had open mental- health cases. If you think the state has a parole system that is not broken in this arena, take a look at the Wilfred Dacier case.

No one disputes that Dacier committed an incredibly brutal crime. On Oct. 21, 1995, he stabbed his sister, Susan Dacier, 14 times in a domestic dispute. Wilfred Dacier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to life, eligible for parole in 15 years.

But his case reveals a Parole Board that seems bent on not releasing those who have committed life crimes — even if they have proven themselves no longer a risk to reoffend; a board that refuses to pay for mental-health evaluations that are important for parolees’ treatment; and a prisoner who is stuck behind bars solely because of his mental-health issues and not because he is a danger to the public…..” More

I’ll be writing a lot more about lifer cases. Stay tuned. We have to change our course.

A Letter From a Prisoner-Advocate

This was sent to me in April and I have gained permission to publish it here. How the DOC prevents contact between prisoners and volunteers, in my opinion, impedes growth. How much prisoners need support from those on the outside!
________________________________________________________________

Jean,
Hello this is Blase Provitola. Even though you do not know who I am I could not resist contacting you.

There are 2 reasons ; the first that I worked with Karter Reed for years in MCI Shirley, since 2000, in a Menswork Men’s Circle that meets every Tues night and the Menswork curriculm classes I teach there. Second, what a gift your book is. To bring much needed awareness to people and especially the system to stop the long term punishment/altering of young men.

I work with men younger than Karter and it’s so sad to witness the struggle and the impact of prison life on them. So thanks for your work and commitment of course to Karter for having the courage to speak his truth with sensitivity and his willingness to help make a difference from his life experience.

I’m heading in to Porter Square on Tuesday and look forward to meeting you. I’m hoping Karter will be there. I can not make contact with him unless the DOC lets me and they won’t. I would not want to jeopardize his parole. He’s a friend who I care about and he ‘s such a great power of example to those trying to live above the line. Please send my love to him!

In spirit
Blase

Menswork,Inc.

Who Will Be Your Next Sheriff?

BostonDailyLogo_landing_New

See my newest post at Boston Magazine on “Who Will Be Your Next Sheriff?”

“You might not think a sheriff’s important to your life, but guess what? Massachusetts sheriffs are in office for six years, even longer than the four years that governors serve. And since this coming November 2016, in all 14 counties, sheriffs are up for reelection, you might want to consider who’s going to manage your county’s prisons and jails, and determine how more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer money will be spent…” More

One More Call For Juvenile Justice

The Amendments for the JJ Bill are problematic. In particular #1, #5 and #11. Take ONE MORE STEP:  PLEASE call your senators and ask them to Vote YES on S.2417 and NO on amendments #1, #5, #11 (as most harmful).  Explanations are below

Amendments #1 and #11, filed by Senators Brownsberger and Tarr, would do away completely with the expungement provisions of this bill.
Amendment #5, filed by Senator Tarr, would strike out reforms to exclude very young children (7 to 10 year olds) from juvenile jurisdiction
Please call again today and ask your Senator to REJECT these three amendments:

Find Your State Senator here.
Call the State House Switchboard at 617-722-2000 and ask to be connected to your State Senator’s office.

Sample script:
My name is __________. I am a constituent of the Senator and I live in__________. The Senate will debate S.2417, an omnibus Juvenile Justice bill and I ask that s/he vote YES on this bill.  I also ask that the Senator reject three harmful amendments to this bill:

Amendments #1 and #11 will deny reasonable efforts to allow young people move on beyond their past transgressions.  These amendments would prevent the expungement of juvenile records, even if the case was dismissed, or was years or decades old.
Amendment #5 would keep very young, elementary school age children subject to delinquency proceedings.  These Processing very young children is a waste of court’s limited resources, as they will highly unlikely be found competent to stand trial.
Thank you!

EXPLANATION

Amendment 1 – Removal of certain sections (Brownsberger)
OPPOSED 
Strikes out the entire section on expungement
Strikes out the entire section on youth status and DOC/HOC young adult programming
Strikes out language prohibiting the prosecution of child victims of sex trafficking
Removes the intra-family victim exception to parent-child privilege

Amendment 2 – Prohibiting Juvenile Solitary Confinement (Chang-Diaz and Eldridge)
SUPPORT
Bans solitary confinement for prisoners under age 18 (but only in prisons and jails)

Amendment 3 – decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student behavior (Jehlen)
SUPPORT
Disturbing public assembly and disorderly conduct offenses for students

Amendment 4 – further defining the role of school resource officers (Jehlen)
SUPPORT
School Resource officer MOU bill

Amendment 5 – Jurisdiction (Tarr)
OPPOSE
Strikes out language that would exclude very young children (7-10) from delinquency proceedings

Amendment 6 – Youth Mitigating Factor (Tarr)
OPPOSE
Strikes out youth status language for juveniles, but keeps language authorizing DOC/HOC to provide programming for young adults

Amendment 7 – Habitual Offender (Tarr)
OPPOSE
Three strikes language for adults

Amendment 8 – Finding of Delinquency on second and subsequent (Tarr)
OPPOSE
Specifies that offenses that are only a fine for the first offense will have a delinquency finding for the second or subsequent offense

Amendment 9 – Addition of a district attorney to the juvenile justice data taskforce (Lovely)
NEUTRAL

Amendment 10 – Court discretion (Lovely)
OPPOSE
Changes expungement for misdemeanor from automatic to discretionary

Amendment 11 – Expungement (Moore)
OPPOSE
Strikes out expungement

Amendment 12 – Task Force Members (Moore)
NEUTRAL
Adds the president of the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association; the president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police to data collection task force

Amendment 13 – Corrective Amendment
SUPPORT
Clarifies that “restraints” not the “child” shall be removed from the court
Clarifies that youth status and adult sentencing is only for juveniles subject to adult sentences not for delinquency cases
Clarifies right to counsel with better grammar
Adds MDAA and Mass Police Chiefs to data collection task force