When Will They Ever Learn:

prison-04The Boston Herald reports of the man who shot at two police officers before he was killed was “Roudy Hendricks, 21, of Brockton. It said he has a “lengthy and violent” criminal record”

The Boston Globe reported of the man who was charged in the Amy Lord case, Edwin J. Alemany, that Suffolk DA Conley said: “Virtually every time he was before the court he was punished, and the sentences that were imposed were reasonable in the context that they were made at that time.” Here again we have a case of a person judging his own actions, that is, investigating himself. Where’s Adrian Walker on this?

Here’s what else The Globe reported: “One case was a 2003 assault in which Alemany stabbed a pizza shop owner after the man confronted him for throwing a rock at his truck. . . .  Alemany pleaded guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and served six months of a two-year sentence.”

My question is why are those two men on the street?

When I prosecuted I found a revolving door system in the district courts where in most cases a criminal’s career went like this for each different crime committed : probation, probation, house of corrections, probation, house of corrections, house of corrections, probation, etc.  I’d see records of people who had ten different convictions over a period of time who fell into the routine of probation and house of corrections sentences. The reason I was seeing them is because the person had been alleged to have committed yet another crime. It never seemed to occur to any of the people handling these cases that something was wrong with the way these people were being handled.

Probation had not helped nor had house of corrections incarceration. The latter usually ranges between three months to two years. It also never seemed to occur to those in the court system handling these cases that each time that type defendant appeared before the court there were people out there who had again been victimized.

Seeing all this, I created a program where persons in this category who had been to jail on previous occasions who again were alleged to have committed a felony, where the person would go to state’s prison, then that person should be indicted and we should recommend as long a period as possible for that person in prison. They would no longer be sentenced to the house of corrections.

In my position in the DA’s office I could do that despite the opposition I ran into from various places, not the least being the superior court judges who didn’t seem to look at the defendant but at the criminal act in front of them. Most of the cases were the type that would normally be handled in the district courts and that’s where these judges wanted them to remain. The only problem was the district court could not sentence a repeat offender to prison. We took the heat and tried to do what the program set out to accomplish.

We’ve seen now that the crime rate in America has been falling. It is now at the lowest point in 40 years. The reason for this are not clear. With less crime there should be more time available to judges and prosecutors to get it right. Yet they still seem unable to do this judging from the above two cases and many others.

I’m not smart enough to figure out why the crime rates have fallen so drastically. Some have suggested that it may be because the incarceration rates are at or are close to an all time high. But figuring the incarceration rate against the population number the difference is negligible.

However, I do suggest that with crime down then those in the criminal courts should have more time to look at a person’s record and figure out if the person is bad or not. If bad, then the person should be put away for as long as possible.

A few simple changes in our present behavior would prevent those who insist on leading a life of crime from being on our streets. One simple change would be legislation forbidding a person charged with a felony from going to he house of corrections if he has been there on two previous occasions.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “When Will They Ever Learn:

  1. Mr. MATT, I applaud your practical common sense efforts while in the system to reverse the reprehensible “revolving door” approach to sentencing. There should be more of it. When will they ever learn ? Perhaps things will change when the “average Joe” decides he no longer trusts the system to protect the victims – his wife and daughter, mother and sister, girlfriend, etc … from these scumbags anymore !

    1. Gus:

      Too many people in the system do things because they have always been done that way. No one seems to want to look at it and see how it can be improved. Making more common sense penalties and concentrating on those who do the greatest harm seems easy yet it doesn’t get done. Too many DA’s try to operate so they can protect themselves, few are willing to take a chance to try something new. I was lucky to work for a DA (Delahunt) who was always interested in taking different approaches to dealing with crimes and victims. I’ve tried to see if other DAs would follow him but few have even tried.

  2. Judges in Massachusetts and most states in the US have never been able to make up their collective minds as to whether prison is for punishment or rehabilitation. Nor has the Corrections Department any policy. The predators are on the street while many people who will never commit crimes again are serving their life sentences and looking forward to getting out after 15. A guy who kills his wife or wife who kills her husband, in an alcohol-fuelled rage is not really a future danger to the public, in majority of cases. So-called “white-collar” crime could be handled better.

    Massachusetts sends (or did send) troublesome inmates into the federal prison system. Perhaps the State should look into renting prison space in the former Soviet Union and sending predators there to experience real hardship without drugs or TV!

    1. Henry:

      Absolutely right about the judges. I’ve never though punishment to be that difficult. Usually looking at a person’s record you get a good idea what he is about.

      The first rule of sentencing in my book is to decide if you are dealing with a bad lad or good lad. Next, if one of the bad guys your job as a judge is to protect society from this predator. Punishment is foremost at this point. You keep the lad off the street for as long as possible.

      You have the situations you describe where alcohol is involved and that should come into play in not only sentencing but also in the crime itself. A person in an alcohol-fueled rage is incapable of committing first degree murder but many are punished that way. I agree that someone in that situation should not do natural life. Nor should they be excused from any punishment because they voluntarily got intoxicate. A loss of life demands some type penalty – on a plea give the person 8 to 10. If he tries to beat it with a self-defense go then make it 12-15.

      In White Collar you come into the area of deterrence and punishment. If white collar criminals don’t go to prison then it will encourage others to do the same thing. Also, there has to be some punishment dependent upon the hurt caused to other people. Bernie Maddoff would never commit another crime if he were left out but do you think that should be it with him?

      Henry, speaking of federal prisons, here are some statistics I found today. State prisoners 2000: 1,176,269; 2010: 1,311,136; Federal prisoners 2000: 140,064; 2010 206,968. States have seen a little over 11% increase; the federals have seen a 48% increase. How’s that for federals gone wild?

  3. Down here in the Whisper Stream of Maine some of us have learned to be smart consumers of the criminal justice system.

    It cost Maine taxpayers $56,000.00 dollars to warehouse 1 inmate for 1 year in our electronic cesspools called prisons.
    see http://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-maine-fact-sheet.pdf

    In return we are guaranteed that when the person is released from prison they are a more vicious and competent criminal.
    Whitey Bulger is the poster child for this statistic.

    We can’t build prisons fast enough in this country to meet the demands of the police and prosecutors. The USA has the highest documented incarceration in the world.I know this first hand having worked for ABT Associates in Cambridge Mass as a consultant when they were contracted by Congress to determine the prison expansion needs for the country.
    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States

    We have the DOC “cooked books”recidivism rates hovering around 75% guaranteeing the voter and taxpayer 75 out of 100 men and women will return to prison once they are released. Yet you will not find anybody from Goldman Sachs of Bank of America in prison.

    I can think of no other business on the planet that people will use that has a 75% failure.
    The voters and taxpayers have a 98% illiteracy rate when it comes to
    being able to speak cost benefit ratio from the CJ crime family.
    Their primary source of information about this dysfunctional organization they fund and own is the X-Files and Hawaii Five O.
    Yet you will not find anyone from Goldman Sachs in prison.

    Look at the people who work in law enforcement. Over 95% of them
    are returning vets from some war like Iraq where the US Military invaded the country for Exxon Mobil because of the serious issues of peak oil. So we now have our laws being enforced by men and women who have the moral compass of serial killers.

    The prosecutors are in their own class of criminal negligence when it comes to being a made member of the CJ crime family. They have no
    problem throwing together rapists,murderers,pedophiles,armed robbers
    together 24/7 where tremendous contamination takes place and the only role models these people have to turn to for years at a time are each other. Professor Phillip Zimbardo made the irreparable harm this causes clear in his famous stanford Prison Experiment .
    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

    Yet there are no people from Goldman Sachs and bank of America in prison.

    Until voters and taxpayers see themselves as owners of the Criminal Justice system as well as the primary consumers of this system
    they will not be able to set and enforce standards for their community safety needs.

    The CJ crime family will continue to benefit only the people running it
    eh Matt?

  4. that would be great, but can a da just indicte someone to superior court for public drunkeness or small ab,s? i know 4 or more dwi cant send you to walpole why not 3 violent crimes? we in mass want to wait until they kill a girl? or will we schol them making them better by sending them to real prison?

    1. Pat2e:

      A DA can indict anyone but it has to be a felony for the person to go to prison. A felony is any crime that carries a sentence of more than 2 1/2 years. The DAs have it in their power to get most of the dirtballs off the street but they are not doing it.

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