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After Woburn Shooting, Calls For Passage Of 'Melissa's Bill'

Republican lawmakers on Beacon Hill are calling for the passage of a long-stalled bill that would keep repeat violent offenders from being released before serving their full sentence.

Ipswich Rep. Brad Hill said if the so-called "Melissa's Bill" had already been on the books, alleged cop-killer Dominic Cinelli would not have been released, and Woburn Police officer Jack Maguire would still be alive.

The bill is named after 27-year-old Melissa Gosule, who was murdered in 1999 by a repeat offender out on parole.

"There will be no opportunity for any judge to say, 'We're going to give you a lesser sentence.' We're saying, whatever the law states, you're going to be sentenced, that is what you will be sentenced," Hill said.

Hill said the bill has never made it out of the Judiciary Committee — and he doesn't know why.

"Publicly, no one will come up to us and say to us, 'Here are our objections to this bill.' Privately, they have not said anything. So that's why we are pushing this bill to come to the floor of the House so that we can actually debate the bill," Hill said.

Hill said he is encouraged by remarks from House Speaker Robert DeLeo that he is considering possible changes to the state parole policy.

Critics of the bill, however, say it could do more harm than good. Boston criminal defense attorney Peter Elikann says the state currently has a good track record of rehabilitating criminals, and that could change without the incentive of parole.

"I would be concerned about a knee-jerk reaction where Massachusetts sort of follows what we refer to often as 'legislation by anecdote,' " Elikann said. "To really get rid of parole would endanger people, basically having people go right from maximum security prison out in the street without any supervision."

Earlier:

This program aired on January 4, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Steve Brown Twitter Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's State House reporter.

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