Will Massachusetts Ever Change
Massachusetts is one of the most lenient states in the nation when it comes to punishing crime. It has been this way for longer than I can remember, and it shows no signs of changing.
The most recent example is Dominic Cinelli, the son of a now deceased Boston police officer. Cinelli has a history of heroin addiction going back to the age of 14. He claimed, in support of that addiction, that he was driven to a life of crime that included several armed robberies, armed assault, armed assault, armed assault and battery, and armed assault with intent to commit murder.
Cinelli was given his three concurrent sentences in 1976. Since then, he escaped twice – both times, he committed additional violent crimes while on the run. Even without the escapes, Cinelli was a chronic disciplinary problem for correction officers.
Following an escape in 1985 where he simply failed to return from a prison furlough, he shot a 60-year-old security guard, John Henry, of Mattapan while robbing a jewelry store in downtown Boston. This robbery was just a small part of a crime spree committed by Cinelli.
Following the 1985 escape and crime spree, he authored a second escape in 1986. In 1986, Cinelli was given an additional 25 year sentence for his 1985 crime spree. Following the sentencing, Cinelli cut both of his wrists while in a holding cell, and with a fake gun fashioned out of legal paper, he convinced a deputy sheriff that it was real forcing the deputy to surrender his service revolver. He used that gun to steal a car while still in shackles and managed to evade police for 10 days, ultimately cornered in a North End bar armed with a .32 caliber pistol.
With this history, among 71 total entries in his criminal record, Cinelli was granted an appeals hearing on the three concurrent life sentences. The result of that hearing Appeals Court granted him eligibility for a parole hearing that was heretofore not available. So, when people get angry about the parole board, and they rightfully should be angry; let’s not forget the role the Massachusetts Appeals Court played in this outrageous tragedy.
While the Governor’s office is overseeing a review of the Parole Board, perhaps the legislature should be encouraged to review the flaws of having a judiciary appointed for life and consider amending the State constitution to requiring judges to run for office where they are subject to the scrutiny of the individual voter. As to holding the Parole Board accountable, they are appointed by the Governor on the advice and consent of the Executive Council. They are full time appointees paid for and supported by taxpayers whom they are sworn to protect.
Obviously, this group failed in that mission considering the history of Cinelli and the unnecessary loss of life of both Officer John “Jack” Maguire and Cinelli while simultaneously putting the lives of countless, innocent civilians at risk.
Life in prison should mean something more than a few years. Issuing concurrent sentences is pointless. If a person deserves three “life” sentences, then, they should be served consecutively and mandatory minimums should also be served consecutively.
I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences to Officer Maguire’s family, friends and fellow officers. The following comes from the days of my youth:
“John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jack laid down his life to protect the lives of strangers. He has matched the greatest sacrifice of Jesus Christ and in so doing deserves a place of honor in the hearts and minds of mankind. May you rest in peace, Jack, and may your family find solace and the grace of comfort knowing that you are in a better place. This is not the time to cry for Jack. It is the time to cry for your loss, and it is time to mourn the vacuum that follows Jack’s passing. Eventually, you will find a way to appreciate the gifts of courage and love he left for humankind to admire, appreciate and to take into their own hearts. Those who do so will feel his love always. He will never be far from you when you need courage and love to get through the most difficult of days.
In July 2009, I addressed this issue, albeit in a broader and more succinct manner. Looking back at that article, I was surprised to find not one comment on the topic. Perhaps, people have become so focused on their own problems that as they read their morning newspapers or view their local news channel, they simply gloss over the problems of society as a whole. Perhaps, the majority of citizens have simply stopped caring and prefer to give lip service to issues to make them sound nice, but then fail to act to demand real solutions that include real sentences.