Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Lawmakers push to revamp sex offender bill

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Measure would make names of lower-level offenders public

By Jim Morrison, The Sun Chronicle

Area lawmakers are backing a move to dust off a bill that would make public the names of lower-level sexual offenders in the wake of a case where a convicted sex offender is charged with more than 100 counts of molesting 13 infants and toddlers.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, announced this week that he would re-evaluate a bill introduced by Gov. Deval Patrick last year that would expand the public release of sex offenders’ names.

“That bill should have gotten out of committee,” said state Sen. Jim Timilty, D-Walpole, who chairs the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “That information should be made readily available.”

Suffolk University panel: Fight against gangs requires more than police

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

By Edward Donga, Patriot Ledger

BOSTON – Public safety experts say the fight against gang activity needs to go beyond police action to include a variety of tools, from tracking education and health care for at-risk youths to family counseling and street intervention.

“What we know from research and from practice is that making decisions based on data and attacking issues like this through a multidisciplinary approach works best,” Suffolk University professor Brenda Bond said at a seminar attended by police, politicians, and academics on Tuesday.

Bond led the discussion along with Erika Gebo her co-author of “Looking Beyond Suppression: Community Strategies to Reduce Gang Violence,” a book chronicling the success of Massachusetts communities using a Shannon Community Safety Initiative grant to combat local gang violence.

Patrick stands his ground vs. proposed bill

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

By Neal J. Riley, The Lowell Sun

BOSTON — In the wake of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s shooting death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, Gov. Deval Patrick said yesterday he would oppose a bill similar to that state’s much-scrutinized “Stand Your Ground” law.

“Well, I don’t think that bill is going to move, and if it were to move, it’s not going to get past my desk,” Patrick told in a radio interview on WTKK-FM. “We don’t need a ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill, and I don’t entirely understand what the argument was for it in Florida.”

Filed for the past five years by state Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, on behalf of the Gun Owners Action League, the legislation would protect individuals who use deadly force against another person if they fear they are about to be severely injured or killed “in any place that they have a right to be.”

State Senate OKs bill aimed at opiate abuse

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

By Corey KanePatriot Ledger

BOSTON — The state Senate has approved a bill that would require doctors to register with the state before being permitted to prescribe opiate painkillers.

The bill was proposed by Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, to address opiate abuse in Massachusetts.

“We all know that opiates are the leading cause of accidental death in Massachusetts, surpassing motor vehicle deaths,” Keenan told colleagues Thursday before they voted unanimously to approve the legislation.

The three-strikes bill met with opposition

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud, The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON — House and Senate conferees reported progress on a sentencing bill Friday as citizens groups gathered at the State House to protest a provision that would eliminate parole for violent criminals.

“Mass incarceration will lead to the appearance of for-profit prisons in Massachusetts, which will be a revolving door for a high rate of crime, incarceration, and recidivism,” said the Rev. George Walters-Sleyon of the Center for Church and Prison. “The state Black and Latino Legislative Caucus unanimously opposed the bill for its harshness.”

The so-called three-strikes bill would eliminate parole for those convicted of three violent crimes. But the Senate version of the bill would also reduce mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of nonviolent crime and drug offenses, and reduce the size of school zones that trigger harsher penalties for those who deal drugs near schools.

Legislators move forward with sentencing bill

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Rick Sobey, The Salem News

BOSTON — House and Senate conferees last week came closer to resolving differences between respective bills cracking down on violent offenders.

State Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, a member of the conference committee, said the House conferees would be willing to discuss the reduced mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders.

“We’ve been able to come a long way in accepting the fact that we will even debate that issue in this conference committee,” Hill said. “But I do think that if you are going to put away the most heinous criminals, you also have to look at what we’re doing with nonviolent offenders as well.”

Fernandes’ DNA bill approved by House

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

BOSTON – A bill by a local legislator that could help wrongfully convicted criminals go free has passed the House unanimously.

The bill, which would give those convicted an opportunity to access DNA evidence to help overturn their convictions, was approved Wednesday.

State Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, co-sponsored the bill, which passed in the Senate in July.

Fattman looks to raise awareness about domestic violence

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

BOSTON – When state Rep. Ryan Fattman, R-Sutton, was a residence housing director at Tufts University, he was approached by a young woman who said she had been raped by her boyfriend.

Hearing the troubling story stuck with Fattman, who now wants to help prevent other cases of rape and domestic violence.

“That impacted me very greatly,” Fattman said. “It made me very angry to hear the details of what happened. Ever since, I have been involved in domestic violence awareness, supporting victims through charity walks for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.”

Two robberies, two brave officers; only one lives to see honor

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

November 19, 2011


Lowell Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee (left) congratulates Hanna Medal of Valor recipient Sgt. Stephen Morrill (right).

BOSTON — A Lowell police officer who dodged bullets to chase a bank-robbery suspect was one of 27 law-enforcement officers hon­ored yesterday by Gov. Deval Patrick, with the ceremony’s top honor bestowed upon a Woburn police officer and Wilmington resident who was killed while responding to a separate rob­bery.

Lowell police Sgt. Stephen Morrill received a Medal of Valor at the 28th annual Trooper George L. Hanna Memorial Awards for his actions responding to an attempted robbery at the Lowell Co-operative Bank on Hurd Street in August 2010. The robbery suspect attempted to lure Morrill into the bank to take him hostage, before running away. Morrill followed and was shot at twice.

“The guy tried to kill him twice, but Steve was able to use his training and his abilities and his knowledge and was able to prevent that from happening,” said Lowell Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee, who nominated Morrill for the award.

Secretary of Public Safety and Security Mary Beth Heffernan, who presented the awards, said Morrill followed the suspect closely through city streets until additional officers arrived for backup.

The suspect committed suicide before police could reach him.

“A police officer can never know what danger lies ahead when he or she responds to a call,” Heffernan said at the Statehouse ceremony. “The actions of Sgt. Stephen Morrill, relentlessly pursuing an armed gunman who twice fired at him, were the epitome of determination and bravery.” Morrill, a 24-year veteran of the department, said he was humbled to receive the award.

“I go to work every day, and I just do my job,” he said.  “Anybody in the Lowell Police Department in that same situation would have done the same thing. Our training kicks and we just do our job.”

The Hanna Awards commemorate Massachusetts State Trooper George L. Hanna, who died in 1983 after being shot multiple times by a man whose car he stopped for questioning in Auburn.

Patrick said the awards are given to officers who have demonstrated bravery that goes above and beyond expectations.

“In recognition of the courageous and selfless actions these heroes displayed, Massachusetts owes them a debt of gratitude,” he said.

Morrill is the second Lowell officer to receive a Hanna Award. Officer Howard Osborne earned a Medal of Honor in 1991 for his response to an armed robbery of a grocery store.

Officer John “Jack” Maguire, a Woburn police officer killed while responding to a botched jewelry robbery in December 2010, posthumously received the ceremony’s top honor. The family of Maguire, who lived in Wilmington, was presented with a Medal of Honor award. Police said Maguire was shot and killed by Domenic Cinelli, a career criminal who also died in the exchange of gunfire.

Maguire’s killing led to an overhaul of the state parole board. Patrick fired five members of the board who voted in 2008 to grant parole to Cinelli despite his history of violent crime.

Cinelli had been sentenced to life in prison in Suffolk County and later received two concurrent life sentences for crimes committed in Middlesex County. The officer’s slaying also prompted renewed calls for tougher laws against habitual offenders. Earlier this week, the House passed a measure that would prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a third serious felony from being considered for parole. The state Senate included a similar provision as part of a broader anti-crime package. A final bill is possible sometime after the first of the year.

Officers from Boston, Fall River, Everett, Chelsea were also presented with awards for bravery, as were officers from the Massachusetts State Police, FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Some material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Link to story

Bill would toughen child abuse reporting laws

Friday, November 11th, 2011

By Krista Kano, MetroWest Daily News
November 11, 2011

An area lawmaker’s plan to broaden state law mandating the reporting of child abuse is being called a small step that could go further by toughening punishment and extending the statute of limitations.

Rep. Kevin Kuros, R-Uxbridge, whose alma mater Penn State University is the center of an abuse scandal, told the State House News Service he would “most likely” file an amendment to the state’s child abuse law that would require all state employees to report crimes against children.

“Right now, not all state employees are mandatory reporters,” he said.

Kuros made his remark shortly after Penn State football coach Joe Paterno announced on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the football season. The university’s Board of Directors later Wednesday decided to fire Paterno immediately.

Paterno’s firing followed allegations that he failed to report that his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually assaulted a young boy in a school shower in 2002.

Massachusetts has an extensive list of professions that are required to report any child abuse or neglect. These so-called mandatory reporters include medical personnel, teachers, clerks, probation officers and clergy members.

Failure to report abuse can result in a fine of up to $1,000, but if that failure results in the death or serious bodily harm of a child, a person can be fined up to $5,000, put in jail for up to 2 1/2 years, or both.

Dave Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the plan to expand Massachusetts’ list of mandatory ” a good, but partial step.”

Clohessy, whose national organization came to prominence during the Catholic clergy abuse scandal, said it would be better to extend or eliminate statutes of limitations for such crimes.

“Typically, the penalties are slight and the enforcement is rare,” he said. “A better remedy is to reform or repeal the statute of limitations (on crimes against children).”

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney whose has represented more than 750 victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse said, “(The fine) should be increased substantially so the law has teeth and impact. A $1,000 fine to a financially well-heeled supervisor is really not going to cause that supervisor to report a violation whereas a law with greater sanctions might.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, both Florida and Indiana make it a first-degree misdemeanor to fail to report child abuse or neglect. Both states classify all citizens as a mandated reporter. Delaware also classifies everyone as a mandated reporter but a 2002 court decision suggests that only medical personnel and school employees are required to report abuse.

Massachusetts lawmakers expanded the list of mandatory reporters following the child abuse scandal involving the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese in 2002, adding nearly all individuals responsible for the care of children to the list. Although clergy are considered to be mandatory reporters, the same requirements do not apply if the information was gained through religious confession.

“There’s no reason not to have such a law given the unfortunate impact of sexual abuse that children suffer,” said Garabedian. “Children need to be protected and this is one way to further protect children.”