Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is being asked by that state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to rebuff legislation that calls for mandatory sentences, which would also take sentencing discretion away from judges. In an ACLU press release, Carl Rose executive director on ACLU MA commented:
"The ACLU of Massachusetts is hugely disappointed that, after months of work on a so-called 'crime bill,' the conference committee has moved forward a deeply flawed mandatory-sentencing bill. If it passes the state House and Senate, we hope Governor Patrick will take appropriate action to make sure that any new law includes much-needed reforms to mandatory-sentencing laws that the ACLU and others have long supported and worked for. Real reform saves millions and increases public safety.
This legislation, in contrast, would expand unjust, wasteful mandatory sentencing and would require sentencing decisions to be made regardless of the facts of individual cases. The changes it would make to Massachusetts laws concerning drug and other offenses will put more people in prison and keep them there longer--at a price tag of nearly $50,000 per prisoner each year.
So-called “3 Strike”' laws are the wrong way forward. We need to repeal mandatory sentencing, not expand it."
The Boston Globe reports that Patrick is ambivalent about the bill as written, and would like to see changes made.
UPDATE: On July 28 Governor Deval Patrick sent the bill back to the Legislature proposing the allowance for judicial discretion be included.