, Gloucester, MA

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January 24, 2011

Lawmakers seek parole changes

BOSTON — A Gloucester lawmaker is leading a bipartisan group of state lawmakers pushing legislation to deny parole to anyone sentenced to more than one life term after a parolee released from three life sentences allegedly shot and killed a police officer.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester and a group of fellow senators unveiled the bill Monday. It also would require that at least three members of the seven-member Massachusetts Parole Board have a law enforcement background and wouldn't allow parole hearings without at least two of those members present. It would also remove a requirement that board members hold four-year college degrees.

The legislation comes after parole board members who voted for the convict's release resigned amid a public outcry over their decision.

The bill also increases the time that those with a single life sentence must serve before being eligible for parole from 15 to 25 years, gives the governor the power to remove members of the board with sufficient cause, and requires that the board notify the attorney general, district attorney, local police chiefs and victims' next of kin 60 days before a parole hearing.

The push for a parole overhaul follows the shooting death of Woburn police Officer John Maguire in December. Police say career criminal and parolee Dominic Cinelli shot Maguire four times during a botched jewelry heist. Cinelli also died in the exchange of gunfire.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone has said his office wasn't notified that Cinelli was scheduled for a parole hearing in 2008.

The senators pushing the parole overhaul cited Maguire's killing as proof the system needs an overhaul.

"Everybody deserves a second chance, but when it comes to violent crime, nobody deserves a third and fourth and fifth chance," said state Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen.

Baddour joined Tarr and a bipartisan group of senators to unveil the bill.

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