BOSTON (CBS) – For years, a local family has been trying to get the state to toughen up the laws and keep repeat violent offenders in prison.
They say a so-called “3 Strikes” law would have saved a loved one’s life.
But that legislation has been stalled in Massachusetts, until now.
For the first time in ten years, the bill has come out of committee and will be debated on the State Senate floor Thursday.
It’s the farthest this bill has ever gone.
For Les Gosule, it’s progress that is long overdue.
“I’m happy we’re here for all the wrong reasons,” he told WBZ-TV.
It’s a fight Gosule has led for more than a decade.
His daughter Melissa was raped and murdered 12 years ago in Halifax by a repeat offender.
Gosule wants criminals convicted three times of the most violent offenses to lose any chance of parole.
“If we can pass this bill, and some innocent person, who I’ll never know, is not raped and not murdered, then we have done something in the name of Melissa.”
But his cause had been stalled on Beacon Hill, until last year when Woburn police officer John Maguire was shot to death by a paroled career criminal.
Now the Senate is working on a bill that would enact “3 Strikes” for 60 different violent crimes.
Also, other repeat offenders would have to serve two-thirds of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Currently the law requires half.
And under the bill, more prisoners will be supervised after release than are currently supervised now.
“This bill is a no-nonsense bill to help protect innocent people,” Gosule said, adding that his daughter would be happy to see this progress.
“She would have wanted other innocent people to live their lives, live their dreams.”
WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports
The House is expected to take up the bill later this month before breaking for recess.
Gov. Deval Patrick said he is reviewing the senate legislation before commenting.
He has filed his own sentencing and parole reform bill.