Patrick Seeks 'Comprehensive' Parole Reforms

As he seeks a "comprehensive fix" of the state's parole system, Gov. Deval Patrick is asking whether some criminals should be kept locked up.

The Parole Board has come under fire for freeing Dominic Cinelli, a career criminal serving three lifetime sentences who allegedly shot and killed a Woburn police officer during a robbery on Dec. 26.

On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers called for the passage of "Melissa's Bill," which would keep repeat violent offenders from being released. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has also indicated he's seeking changes to state parole policy.

"Is there something within the rules that the parole board could have done, should have done, and didn’t that would have prevented this?"

Gov. Deval Patrick

Asked whether there should be parole for a multi-life-sentence criminal like Cinelli, Patrick said, "I think it's a perfectly fair question and a natural one and one I think the people of the commonwealth are asking just like me."

In an earlier report, the governor urged restraint, saying he wanted to wait until a state review is done before commenting on potential parole reforms.

On Tuesday, Patrick said the "horrific tragedy" in Woburn prompts a few questions:

"Is there something within the rules that the parole board could have done, should have done, and didn't that would have prevented this? Are they the right rules? Do we have the right parole eligibility for the right set of offenses? And I think all of that has to be on the table — and is."

The governor defended parole for encouraging rehabilitation "as a part of creating a more comprehensive step-down strategy for people who are coming out of incarceration."

Patrick said he's worried some criminals may come out of prison more dangerous, and wants to "take from this tragedy some lessons and integrate those into a comprehensive fix."

"We don't have a modern, professional system, tried and true, tested in other places to assure that people are reintegrated into productive, mainstream life," he said. The governor said the Probation Department, sheriffs and education all need to play a role in a comprehensive strategy.

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