'Three Strikes' Bill Moves on to the Governor

By Sarah Birnbaum

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July 19, 2012

STATE HOUSE, Boston — The Massachusetts Senate has approved a compromise version of the controversial “three strikes” crime bill. The 31-to-7 vote came one day after the House overwhelmingly approved the legislation. It now heads to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk.

Les Gosule, whose daughter was raped and stabbed to death by a paroled killer in 1999, was crying tears of joy in front of the Senate chamber. He had been fighting for 12 years to toughen the state’s sentencing laws. He described how he felt following the bill's passage.

“It was kind of funny in a way, because of Melissa. It felt like I was holding my child," he said. "It was jubilation. It was beholding the birth of my first child. That’s what it was like."

Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill denying parole to some violent repeat offenders.

Approval came despite opposition from critics who say it would lead to prison overcrowding, and disproportionately target minority groups.

Sen. Cynthia Creem, the lead negotiator on a House-Senate conference committee that produced the bill after months of negotiations, voted against it.

"I made a promise that I would bring this bill to the floor. And I kept that promise. But my friends, I made a promise to myself. I have only my own vote. And the promise to myself is that I would vote for a bill that I would look in the mirror and say I did the right thing," she said.

Patrick is expected to review the bill before deciding whether to sign it or seek amendments.

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