Crime bill compromise near, Rep. Holmes says
Lawmakers are close to a compromise on a controversial anti-crime bill, also known as the "three strikes" bill, according to state Rep. Russell Holmes.
The Mattapan Democrat, a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary, said the compromise is “basically done” and predicted that the House and Senate would pass a compromise before lawmakers adjourn formal sessions for the rest of the year on July 31.
But Holmes also said he expected the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to vote against the compromise. House members of the caucus, including Holmes, opposed the House version of the bill when it passed last fall, saying it disproportionately affected minorities and would lead to increased overcrowding in prisons. Supporters said the bill cracks down on habitual offenders and violent crime.
The legislation has drawn heated rhetoric from both sides as a six-member conference committee with House and Senate members has worked to hash out a compromise.
Holmes said the potential compromise could include some 30 crimes that would lead to a maximum sentence without parole for three-time offenders, and for drug-related crimes, shrinking a school zone from 1,000 feet to 300 feet. Such a compromise would be closer to the Senate version, which passed unanimously in the Upper Chamber.
A compromise would also need the signature of Gov. Deval Patrick, who has repeatedly stated he wants a balanced anti-crime bill “targeting the most dangerous and damaging for the strictest sentences, and better preparing the non-dangerous for eventual release and reintegration.”
Material from State House News Service was used in this report.