Mass. Senate Approves Bill To Tighten Parole Eligibility

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would deny parole to anyone convicted of a third serious felony.

The bill would require that anyone convicted of two crimes from a list of the state’s most serious offenses — including murder, rape and kidnapping — be considered a habitual offender.

An offender convicted of a third crime on the list would be required to serve out his or her full sentence without parole.

The measure also closes a loophole in current law so that sentences served for federal crimes would count toward habitual offender status.

The bill would deny parole to any inmates serving multiple life sentences. It would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes and establish the crimes of assault and battery by discharging a firearm, assault with a firearm, murder for hire and strangulation.

It also updates the state wiretapping laws to include text messages and other electronic communications and reduces the area considered to be a school zone from 1,000 feet to 500 feet to allow for tougher sentences for selling drugs.

Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, said the bill “makes changes to current sentencing and parole laws that will tighten the grip on habitual offenders and help law enforcement build cases against serious criminals.”

The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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