Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Massachusetts Parole Board wants to make it mandatory for all violent offenders to be released into supervised settings, a move Mayor Thomas M. Menino said could be a deterrent to convicts going back to lives of crime.
“No one should be getting out of prison without supervision,” Menino said yesterday.
“We do not want any of these convicts going back to their old ways. Without supervision, without help, guidance, that happens,” he said.
Massachusetts does not mandate postrelease supervision for the more than 20,000 cons being released each year, a legislative lapse that leaves the most dangerous population of people unsupervised,Maureen Walsh, chairwoman of the state’s parole board, said in a recent interview.
In 2005, 7,923 prisoners were released, but just 2,177 are now under parole supervision, according to statistics obtained by the Herald.
Walsh said there are roughly 2,200 convicts who served time for violent crimes being released each year and more than half of those offenders opt to serve their entire sentence rather than face supervision by parole officers.
Gov. Mitt Romney has filed a bill to take away that option.
One convict who opted to stay behind bars for an extra year rather than pay $55 a month to be paroled was Joseph Gomes, 39. Gomes, of Dorchester, was released from prison in April after serving roughly nine years behind bars for armed robbery and other charges.
“I didn’t want to be under supervision. I’ve been under supervision since I was 13 years old,” Gomes told the Herald this week.
Since his release, he has been having trouble landing a job, Gomes said.
The state, for its part, has substantially increased its budget to help people like Gomes re-enter society.
In fiscal year 2006, the state received more than $1.7 million in federal funds for re-entry programs, a huge leap over grant money awarded in years past. In 2003, the state received just $114,051 to help convicts after their release from prison, according to Donald Giancioppo, executive director the Massachusetts Parole Board.
Yesterday the Herald reported that 171 killers convicted of second-degree murder have been paroled since 2002.