Rogers Leads Bipartisan Effort to Fix Sentencing
Sex Offenders Given Lifetime Penalty
Boston: A day after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down a decision in the Commonwealth v. Cole case which overturned a law requiring lifetime parole supervision for sex offenders. Representative John Rogers, a Norwood Democrat, teamed up with Representative Brad Jones, the House’s leading Republican, in a bipartisan effort to fix this radical change in the way sex offenders are sentenced.
Rogers, who chaired the House Committee on The Judiciary in 1998 and 1999, wrote the initial law, which protected communities by requiring released sex offenders to be subject to lifetime parole. “We first enacted this law because lifetime supervision of dangerous sex offenders is the leading tool to reduce recidivism and prevent repeat offenses to keep our citizens safe,”
On Wednesday, the state’s highest court struck down the provision authorizing the state’s parole board to impose lifetime parole supervision on sex offenders who gave served their prison term. More than 300 sex offenders in Massachusetts are, at least for now, released from state supervision.
The court noted that the law violated Article 30 of the Massachusetts Constitution in that it disturbed the principle of the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government.
“The SJC did, however, lay the blueprint in what would be the appropriate legislative remedy and the Legislature must quickly pursue that plan,” Rogers said. “They raised a solution and we should get on that,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones. “Just because this decision means these 300 parolees are off the hook doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the legislative fix to cover new (offenders).”
The bill is attracting a large number of co-sponsors from both sides of the isle.