Parole Shakeup Leaves 9 Officials Out, Reforms Proposed

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Nine people will lose their jobs over the state Parole Board decision to release the man who fatally shot Woburn police officer Jack Maguire last month.

As he made public the state's investigation into the release of Domenic Cinelli, Gov. Deval Patrick outlined some astonishing mistakes made by the Parole Board, but he said new board members and reforms should help.

The case continues to provoke strong emotions from all sides.

The governor took a solemn, stern tone in outlining his response to the investigation showing that the Parole Board made several mistakes in voting to release Cinelli in 2008. Patrick accepted the resignations of all five Parole Board members who supported Cinelli's release and the former executive director of the board. He also suspended three parole officials. Patrick said he realizes that's little solace following the shootout that killed Cinelli and Macquire.

As he made public the state's investigation into the release of Domenic Cinelli, Gov. Deval Patrick outlined some astonishing mistakes made by the Parole Board, but he said new board members and reforms should help.

"As I said to Mrs. Maguire, with whom I spoke on the phone just moments ago, none of this is going to bring Jack back. She knows that, you know that, I know that," Patrick said. "But what we have done and what we must do is all we can to regain the public's confidence in a part of the criminal justice system that is vital to a criminal justice program."

The state's investigation was done by state Public Safety Undersecretary John Grossman. It details several things, such as the board not properly notifying prosecutors and victims of Cinelli's parole hearing and parole officers not appropriately monitoring the conditions of Cinelli's release.

"Each parolee should have one face-to-face meeting each month with a parole officer and one collateral contact. That's a meeting with the parolee's employer, or significant other, to make sure the parolee is staying on the straight and narrow," Grossman said. "In this case, the parole officer failed to have collateral contacts in five of the six months before Cinelli killed officer Maguire."

"I doubt it; I think that's just a red herring," said Northeastern University Law professor Patty Garin.

Garin oversaw her students defend Cinelli before the Parole Board in 2008. She said the governor is unfairly blaming the Parole Board and not taking responsibility for mistakes that are bound to happen when you rely on human judgment.

"Mr. Cinelli saw his parole officer every month. He passed his urine tests. If a parole officer called a third party to ask him how he's doing, would that have made the difference? I doubt it," Garin said.

The governor is also proposing to create a special unit to supervise high-risk parolees like Cinelli.

Cinelli was a former heroin addict serving three concurrent life sentences for a lengthy record of armed robberies and assaults.

Twenty-two months after the Parole Board released him, police say he tried to rob a Kohl's department store and then shot Maguire.

"We lost a police officer here because of their actions. It's my belief he never should have been out," said Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney. Mahoney said his officers are having a hard time.

"I have over 40 percent of my department who's been through counseling or in counseling, including myself. It's been very difficult — we're coming together as a family, we're all supporting each other, so that's going well," Mahoney said. "And this report and the action the governor took is going to make a big difference."

But Mahoney and other police officials want even tougher action. With Mahoney Thursday was Wellesley Police Chief Terry Cunningham with the Massachusetts Association of Police Chiefs. He said because the governor's report showed that the Parole Board now has a new way to assess parolees that might have prevented Cinelli from being released, his group may ask the state to review all parolees using that tool.

"I appreciate where the governor went, however I still have a concern about some of those individuals that are out there on the street today," Cunningham said. "And those are the people that our officers are going to run into — you know, they run into them daily out there — and it could be another Jack Maguire that could occur tonight."

The police also want strong legislation — maybe even stronger than what the governor is promising. Patrick's plan would require stricter sentencing for repeat offenders, and he's expected to file that on Friday.


This program aired on January 14, 2011.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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