BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a new bill Thursday with the goal of keeping repeat offenders behind bars and protecting the public.
The measure was created in response to the murders of Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon and Weymouth Police Sergeant Michael Chesna.
“Recent tragedies have demonstrated the tremendous damage that can occur when our criminal justice system fails to identify and detain dangerous people charged with serious crimes,” Baker said. “The alarming frequency of these events confirmed for us that we need to fix a broken law.”
Gannon’s accused killer has more than 100 criminal charges against him, and Chesna’s alleged murderer allegedly committed the crime while he was out on $500 bail for a pending drug charge.
Baker’s bill would create a new felony offense for cutting off court-issued GPS monitoring bracelets.
It would allow police to arrest suspect probation violators without a warrant, and it would allow a judge to consider a defendant’s entire criminal history when ruling on conditions of release.
“It is encouraging to see that the call for action to keep dangerous and repeat criminals off the streets that began as a result of Sgt. Gannon’s murder is being taken seriously,” said Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson.
The legislation also includes:
- Requires that the courts develop a text message service to remind defendants of upcoming court dates, reducing the chance they will forget and have a warrant issued for their arrest.
- Allows dangerousness hearings at any point during a criminal proceeding, rather than requiring a prosecutor to either seek a hearing immediately or forfeit that ability entirely, even if circumstances later arise indicating that the defendant poses a serious risk to the community.
- Requires that the probation department, bail commissioners and bail magistrates notify authorities who can take remedial action when a person who is on pre-trial release commits a new offense anywhere in the Commonwealth or elsewhere.
- Creates a task force to recommend adding information to criminal records so that prosecutors and judges can make more informed recommendations and decisions about conditions of release and possible detention on grounds of dangerousness.
More information about hte new legislation can be read on the state’s website.