STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - AFTERNOON EDITION - FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
PATRICK SIGNS PAROLE ELIGIBILITY FOR JUVENILE MURDERERS
A three-tiered system of parole eligibility for juvenile murderers in Massachusetts will be established under a law signed Friday by Gov. Deval Patrick. Lawmakers sent the bill (H 4307) to his desk in the wake of state and federal court rulings determining that sentencing juveniles to life without parole was unconstitutional. Under the legislation, juveniles convicted of first-degree felony murder become parole-eligible after serving 20 to 30 years and juveniles convicted of first-degree murder with premeditation become parole-eligible in 25 to 30 years. Juveniles convicted of first-degree murder with extreme cruelty and atrocity would become parole-eligible after a minimum of 30 years. The bill is not retroactive, meaning the roughly 60 people in the prison system who were convicted as juveniles and sentenced to life without parole defaulted to a parole-eligibility term of 15 years as a result of the court rulings. The parole hearing process has begun for some of those 60 people. The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition earlier this week unsuccessfully lobbied Patrick in a bid to have him propose an amendment to the bill. In an email blast to members, the coalition said the bill should not have tiers. The coalition also asked for Patrick to amend the bill to include a right to counsel and access to experts at parole hearings.
GUV: "PLENTY OF TIME" TO TALK BEFORE STATE HOUSES IMMIGRANT CHILDREN
Gov. Deval Patrick and a top administration official said Friday there would be a public engagement process and the potential need for passage of a federal funding bill before Westover Air Reserve Base or Joint Base Cape Cod is selected as a site to house about 1,000 immigrant children in federal custody. "A big part of it hinges on the supplemental funding the president has asked for," Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz told reporters. He said if Massachusetts is selected the state would aim to house the children in "the most humanitarian way possible." Local officials in Bourne and Chicopee have reacted with concern over Patrick's proposal to potentially make the sites available. Patrick said he doesn't plan to visit Chicopee. "I don't intend to go. The rep's been briefed. The mayor's been briefed. When and if the federal government decides they want to use Westover there will be plenty of time to engage," Patrick said. Patrick also said the plan is not to use the Westover barracks, but land on the air base. A surge of children mainly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala has overwhelmed the federal government's ability to house the immigrants in federal custody while their cases are processed. About 30,000 children have been placed with families outside the facilities in the first half of 2014, and about 3 percent of them came to Massachusetts, which he said is "irrespective" of whether the Bay State hosts a facility. "There's a long process. They have to come look at the site. They have to evaluate it," said Polanowicz, who said work might need to be undertaken to make the immigrant housing a "secure facility." He said, "We're going to want to do it the right way." - A. Metzger/SHNS
CABRAL: HISTORY OF "ISSUES" LED TO COMMISSIONER'S OUSTER
Secretary of Public Safety and Security Andrea Cabral said Friday that a series of "issues" that called into question the level of "solid critical thinking" of former Department of Correction Commissioner Luis Spencer. Gov. Deval Patrick accepted Spencer's resignation Thursday after he slowed down an internal investigation into an internal investigation into the alleged "use of force" in May by a corrections officer against a mental health inmate at Bridgewater State Hospital. Cabral said it was her recommendation to Patrick to seek out Spencer's resignation. "You have to be able to apply that critical thinking to each situation appropriately so that you're always doing what's both in the best interest of government and the best interest of your agency," Cabral told the News Service. "And there were issues over time that we had addressed one by one, and an issue most recently, and I was not able to assure the governor that it would not happen again."- A. Metzger/SHNS
ORGANIZERS GEARING UP FOR SECOND ANNUAL "SWIMMABLE CHARLES"
Due to pollution recreational swimming had been prohibited in the Charles River since the 1950s, until the annual Charles River Swimming Club's One-Mile Swim Race, which began in 2007. Then last July the Charles River Conservancy held its first community swim in Boston. Conservancy officials on Saturday plan to welcome swimmers back to the river again, with an expanded swim area that includes a lap lane. The 2nd Annual Charles River Community Swim is set to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fiedler Dock of the Esplanade, near the Hatch Shell. Swimmers must be 12 years old or older and youth swimmers must provide documented proof of their ability to swim, according to organizers. It's free, but registration is required and according to the conservancy, 30 swimmers will be allowed at a time in 30-minute blocks. Those interested may register at charlesriverconservancy.eventbrite.com - M. Norton/SHNS