BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) Governor Deval Patrick is sending the habitual offenders bill known as Melissa's Bill back to Massachusetts lawmakers with an amendment that calls for what a spokesperson calls a "safety valve to ensure the expansion of mandatory sentencing does not have unjust consequences."
In a letter to advocates of the so-called "three strikes" bill released on Saturday, Governor Patrick explains what he feels is the need for an amendment allowing the sentencing judge to allow parole eligibility.
"The sentencing judge, who has observed all the witnesses and the defendant, heard all the evidence, and considered and ruled upon all the arguments throughout the course of the trial, is in the best position to appreciate all the facts. He or she should have some limited discretion, as judges in other states do, to allow parole eligibility after a period of time served," says the governor.
The amendment is a change to a safety valve involving the state's Supreme Judicial Court that was previously suggested by state lawmakers. Under the previous version, lawmakers included a measure that would allow for an automatic appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court for any repeat offender who was sentenced under Melissa's Bill.
Governor Patrick hopes to sign the bill with the amendment included into law next week.
Melissa's Bill is named after Melissa Gosule, who was killed by a man with 27 prior convictions.