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Keller @ Large: Mercy Scarce For Sal DiMasi

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Sal DiMasi answers questions outside federal court, June 15, 2011. (Photo by Bernice Corpuz)

Sal DiMasi answers questions outside federal court, June 15, 2011. (Photo by Bernice Corpuz)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Sal DiMasi, the former House speaker, is two years into his eight-year corruption sentence in a North Carolina prison. And according to his wife, he is very ill with throat and tongue cancer that went untreated for some time.

The crimes DiMasi was convicted of – selling out the power of his office in exchange for bribes – were very serious. And sometimes, convicts die in prison instead of at home with their families. To put it bluntly, if you can’t do the time, you shouldn’t do the crime.

Still, if the federal prison at Devens is good enough for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it’s hard to believe it isn’t an appropriate venue for DiMasi, so that his family could more readily visit him.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But the suggestion of even that minimal act of mercy for DiMasi prompted some interesting – and disturbing – responses from top local politicians.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who described DiMasi as his “pal,” choked up when I asked him about it. “Bring him home to his family, whatever time he has left on this earth,” he said.

Ed Markey was a bit more reserved, saying transfer to a nearby prison would be “humane,” but declining to raise the issue with President Obama, who has the power to order it.

Gabriel Gomez said he didn’t know the details of DiMasi’s illness, but “he broke the law, he needs to serve his time.”

And Gov. Patrick got surprisingly angry at the question, saying “I’m not gonna get involved in that at all…I have plenty of other things to do.”

“Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge,” wrote William Shakespeare in “Titus Andronicus.”

And, he might have added, a scarce commodity.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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