Boston City Council weighed in on the "Three Strikes" bill working through the Legislature, calling for it to let judges keep control over sentencing, among other recommendations.
The resolution passed Wednesday does not couch the councilors as outright opponents of a habitual offender law, as some councilors sought to do previously. Instead, the resolution calls for state legislators to keep in mind several requests as they craft a final bill. Such laws create life sentences for people convicted of three violent felonies.
Councilors called on the state not to pass any "Three Strikes" law until a study is made of the economic and social impacts on cities and towns.
Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Charles Yancey hammered out the revised resolution, with help from several other councilors. A copy of the complete resolution is attached to this post as a PDF.
The resolution passed 11-1, with only Councilor Bill Linehan voting "no." Councilor Michael Ross was absent. President Stephen Murphy called only for a voice vote, not a roll-call on the controversial issue.
District 5 Councilor Rob Consalvo said the resolution had come along way.
"This is 10,000 times better than what we were looking at last week," he said.
Yancey, who sponsored the spurned original resolution, said he wanted to make sure the resulting bill had room for rehabilitation.
"It’s not an easy issue, because no one of us supports violent activity," he said. "No one of us condones rapists."
Pressley called the resolution a "values statement" that would also inform state legislators debating the measure. She said legislators should recognize that while African American and Latino men are incarcerated at a higher rate than other populations, it is also true that communities of color are disproportionately affected by violence. Pressley is herself a victim of sexual assault and has spoken out against violence repeatedly in her political career.
Les Gosule, whose daughter was raped and killed by a man with 27 felony convictions who had recently gotten out of prison, maintains a blog keeping track of the progress of the Three Strikes bill. The bill is also known as "Melissa's Bill" after his daughter, who lived in JP at the time of her murder.
In other news from Wednesdays City Council meeting:
- Boston has won a long-awaited $7.26 million state grant to build a new library in East Boston.
- Councilors hired Kathleen Williams as the City Council budget director.