Amid consternation over the low bail ordered for a Level 3 sex offender — charged with his third offense — state Sen. Bruce Tarr said Friday he is redoubling his efforts to push through a bill that would address criminal recidivism.
The so called "three strikes" bill — in committee with the differences between the House and Senate versions being reconciled, would reform the parole system, require the worst offenders to serve their full incarceration terms for a third offense, and reduce the mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes.
According to Tarr, nothing in the law would directly change the way Starr Lloyd III, who was charged with open and gross lewdness for allegedly exposing himself to a 12-year-old girl in Gloucester in February, was handled by the court last week. But it could change the way people think about such issues.
"For far too long, our state has been developing a tolerance for recidivism," Tarr said in a phone interview. "(The bill) starts to strike back at that culture."
The bill, which originally gained steam after a paroled killer shot and killed a Woburn police officer, focuses most on criminals who are given life sentences or who are convicted of violent crimes. The exact content of the bill is still being negotiated.
Under the bill, criminals with multiple life sentences would be prohibited from getting parole. Since many sentences run concurrently, or at the same time, those sentenced to 25 years to life in prison can now be eligible for parole, even if they were convicted of multiple counts of murder.
Another point of agreement is a plan to ensure that the "worst" criminals serve all of any sentence handed down for a third offense. The law now mandates that all repeat offenders serve at least half of their third sentences. The sticking point in that proposal is the debate over which crimes are "the worst."
Right now, House and Senate negotiators are debating over which crimes to include in the requirement.
Despite Starr's criminal history — including a 2009 charge of rape in Manchester that was never prosecuted by the Essex County District Attorney's office — Starr has only been convicted of two counts of open and gross lewdness, meaning that he would certainly not be included in those considered "the worst."
Starr would, however, be caught in the requirement that offenders serve two-thirds of a third sentence, rather than the half currently mandated.
"What I'm trying to do is send a message loud and clear from Beacon Hill," said Tarr. "If you repeatedly victimize the community, that will not be tolerated."
Stephanie Bergman can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or email@example.com.