ROMNEY SIGNS BILL TO TRACK RELEASED CRIMINALS
Massachusetts to join other states in sharing data on offenders who relocate
Governor Mitt Romney today signed legislation that enters Massachusetts into the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, a national system that monitors the movement of the estimated five million convicted criminals nationwide who have been released on probation or parole.
"Massachusetts law enforcement shouldn't be working blindfolded," said Romney. "By joining the compact, our law enforcement personnel will have the information they need to keep our communities safe from criminals who move to the Commonwealth."
Ninety seven per cent of all convicted criminals eventually return to the community, and most of them are on parole or probation. This legislation closes a gap in the law to help authorities more accurately monitor those with criminal histories.
As a member of the interstate compact Massachusetts will be able to share and access information regarding offenders with other states in the nation. Until now, states have not been required to notify Massachusetts when probationers or parolees relocate to the Commonwealth. States have also not been required to supervise offenders who have moved out of Massachusetts.
"With Massachusetts signing this into law, my promise to my daughter Peyton has been fulfilled," said Pat Tuthill, who became an advocate for the interstate compact after her daughter was murdered in 1999 in Colorado by a convicted felon from Maryland. Colorado authorities did not receive notification the offender had moved to their state and were unaware of his presence until he committed this crime.
The interstate compact sets strict guidelines to govern offenders' eligibility for transfer to prevent them from crossing state lines without notice and supervision. Such eligibility will be at the discretion of the sending state, and receiving states will accept offenders only if they are in compliance with the terms of supervision in the sending state.
"I am very pleased that we were able to come to an agreement and make this legislation happen," said Senator Robert A. O'Leary, the bill's lead sponsor. "Joining the compact will increase public safety and help law enforcement to better perform their duties."
As a member of the interstate compact, Massachusetts will be able to take advantage of a national database of offenders developed by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision. This database will provide law enforcement with key information on all individuals who are pending for transfer or have been approved for transfer to another state.
"I am very pleased that we have worked out a solution on the interstate compact and that parole and probation will now oversee these individuals and protect our citizens," said Representative Lewis G. Evangelidis, a member of the joint legislative committee that approved the bill.
To become a member of the interstate compact, each state is assessed an annual fee. Massachusetts' participation is expected to cost approximately $25,000 each year. Governor Romney's Fiscal Year 2006 budget recommendation for the Parole Board included an additional $300,000 to help with operating costs tied to the expected increase in renditions of offenders that will be mandated by the compact.
"You cannot put a price tag on effective public safety," said Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. "This administration is committed to helping the Parole Board with any additional financial needs that come from implementing the new interstate compact."
"The passage of this legislation provides the Commonwealth with the ability to properly track and supervise offenders from other states within Massachusetts and enhance the likelihood that they will remain in the community as tax-paying, law-abiding citizens," said Maureen Walsh, Chair of the Massachusetts Parole Board, which will oversee the state's participation in the compact.