Massachusetts’ lawmakers decision to reform the parole process is at best laughable, at worst opportunistic. In 1988 the Willie Horton debacle reverberated nationally and probably decided the presidency. Lawmakers back then attacked the furlough program in Massachusetts and used Mr. Horton’s horiffic crime as a springboard to further their political ambitions.
Overall the furlough program in Massachusetts was highly successful in that it dramatically reduced the level of violence at MCI Walpole. Ironically lifers fared better on furloughs than other prisoners. So here we are today and Massachusetts lawmakers are again grandstanding about a system that needed fixing long before this latest tragedy. Because a police officer was killed there is this sudden urgency toward reform. Is the life of a law enforcement agent any more valuable than that of the average citizen?
We argue that police officers often risk their lives for us and for that I am as grateful as anyone else. But I am also mindful that becoming a police officer is a choice. No one is drafted into the profession and as such should not warrant any more attention than other victims of violent crime. To be sure Dominic Cenelli was not the only Massachusetts parolee to commit an act of violence. Mr. Cenelli should never have been paroled because he was serving three life sentences. That’s common sense. Apparently members of the former parole board were woefully deficient in that area. Now other deserving prisoners will be adversely affected by the knee-jerk reaction of myopic lawmakers and the so-called changes that they propose.
I think that Amy Wendel sets an incredible example of how easy it can be to help others if you open your eyes and see that there are many who have very little. Her story is an inspiration and I look forward to meeting this seemingly incredible young woman at her event in March!
Unless there are programs to help prisoners on the outside, how can they be introduced back into society? Can you imagine the culture-shock prisoners are impacted with after spending 20-30 years in prison? Finding jobs, I would think, would be a priority. I was saddened when a shelter worker told me that 30 percent of the homeless he sees are ex-cons.
Clearly, society would be better off having a productive member than a desperate one.