Friday, January 7, 2011

Denying Power of Punishment

In a sad story from the Boston Globe, we see the effects of a criminal justice system that forgets its major public role is the protection of the public and that involves appropriate punishment for the aggressor.

An excerpt.

“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 governor said he was “obviously upset’’ about the case, but would not comment at length until his administration finishes its review of the Parole Board’s 2008 decision to free Cinelli, who was serving three concurrent life terms for a series of armed robberies.

“I want to wait for the review and then review what they show me thoroughly and then take whatever action is necessary,’’ the governor said. “The thing that, for me, gets lost in this — and I was thinking about this at the funeral last week — is that we jump immediately to the recriminations, and we forget there’s a human tragedy there, a family that’s been upended.’’

“But a visibly angry DeLeo sharply questioned the Parole Board’s decision and said the case “cries out’’ for a remedy, either from the governor or the Legislature, to ensure that convicts serving multiple life sentences cannot be paroled.

“When I read three life sentences, that just grabbed me, and I said, ‘Why are we even having this discussion?’ ’’ DeLeo said.”