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Boston City Council Urges Changes to Three-Strikes Bill

City Council passed a resolution calling for a "three strikes" bill working its way through the legislature to let judges keep control over sentencing, among other recommendations.

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:

WesternCiv March 13, 2012 at 02:28 PM
The City Council resolution urges that the habitual offender Bill be limited only to crimes in which actual "physical injury" results. This would exempt crimes like attempted murder, armed robbery, home invasion, carjacking, child pornography, arson, kidnapping, and many others if actual physical injury does not result in a given instance. The resolution opposes any expansion of mandatory sentences and favors broad judicial discretion -- even for ten, twenty, and fifty-time repeat violent felons. The City Council resolution is factually incorrect and echoes the misinformation of criminal activists. It falsely asserts that the Bill will apply to non-violent "low level offenders"; it falsely implies that the Mass. Bill is similar to other states' '3-strikes' laws; it mentions mandatory sentences for drug offenses (which are not in the Bill); it falsely assumes massive costs and prison population increases. And while it tones down claims of racial discrimination from Yancey's original draft, the final resolution still implies it. Instead of standing up for and with their more law-abiding constituents, including the Boston police union, the Boston City Council caved in to the likes of the Nation of Islam, the Workers World Party (a radical communist group), Occupy Boston, the Mass. ACLU, and other prisoners rights and racial groups. There are no 'Profiles in Courage' here.

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