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Melissa's Bill overdue;
refuting misinformation
by Les Gosule

Thousands of jaywalkers face life in prison without parole under a habitual offender bill soon to be approved by the Massachusetts legislature -- or so you’d think, listening to hysterical claims of criminal rights groups who have launched a last ditch misinformation campaign against the legislation named Melissa's Bill in memory of my late my daughter.

My daughter, Melissa Gosule, was brutally raped and murdered by a 27– time convicted violent criminal who spent less than two years in prison before the state released him to terrorize the public. My daughter would still be alive today had this law been in effect.

Melissa's Bill requires anyone convicted three or more times of specified violent felonies to serve their full sentence without parole. This legislation protects our public safety by keeping more of the worst, repeat violent predators off the streets.

Criminal advocates charge that the bill will lead to incarceration of thousands of nonviolent, smalltime offenders, some for life. They charge that the bill replicates California’s “three strikes” law, that it increases prison overcrowding and costs, and that it is “racist”-- all patently false charges.*

In fact, the Massachusetts bill will have nominal effect on overcrowding as it targets only a small handful of the most dangerous criminals who repeatedly do physical harm to others.  [The Mass. Sentencing Commission has since completed a study which found that this legislation will add 9 to 14 new inmates per year to the state's prison population, costing less than $1 million: see here].

Unlike California’s law, Melissa's Bill does not cover misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies. It does not expand drug penalties, nor does it mandate automatic life without parole for the third offense. Our bill mandates that anyone convicted of their third violent felony must serve the full sentence for that third violent felony. The Senate version also bans parole for anyone given more than one life sentence for a violent felony.

Some ‘indirect’ violent crimes, like illegal possession of assault weapons, are included in the Senate bill. Such crimes by repeat offenders pose an extreme threat of physical violence. And someone must have been previously convicted twice of violent felonies to lose parole eligibility under this bill.

Criminal advocates claim that the bill’s new parole restrictions will cost $150 million per year -- an unsubstantiated guesstimate based on their erroneous assumption that our bill replicates California’s law. Some biased media, most notably the Globe, have parroted this figure without questioning its validity.*

However, the Senate Ways and Means committee, in consultation with the Department of Corrections, firmly estimates a cost of $200,000 to $400,000 per year, a nominal cost to keep us all safer.

Regardless of cost, the state’s first duty is to protect our lives and safety. What price tag can be placed on the lives of my daughter, Woburn police officer Jack Maguire, and other innocent victims of serial predators?

Criminal advocates charge that this legislation is “racist” because it will impact high crime minority neighborhoods.

But the law applies to everyone equally, regardless of race. If someone doesn't want to serve time under this bill, he should simply refrain from committing multiple acts of murder, armed assault, home invasion, child rape, and other violent crimes. Frankly, I’m tired of scurrilous charges of “racism” used to milk liberal guilt.

Some 40% of released violent offenders commit recidivist crimes under Massachusetts’ currently lenient parole laws. Melissa's Bill is smart on crime; it rationally addresses this systemic problem by keeping more of the most dangerous habitually violent offenders, the worst of the worst, off the streets.

Public safety, public opinion, and common sense demand that the legislature and governor approve this legislation.
Les Gosule is the father of Melissa Gosule who was murdered in 1999 by a habitual offender. He has been working for passage of Melissa's Bill for twelve years.

* Editor's note:
A prisoners rights group fabricated these false claims, then other activist groups and their allies at the Globe and Phoenix parroted them as "fact", never questioning or independently investigating them.

The Globe continues to run editorials, op-eds, and articles against Melissa's Bill while rebuffing numerous requests by supporters of the bill to present their side of the story.

Between their pushing only one side of the story and publishing hysterical, unsubstantiated claims as "facts", the Boston Globe has demonstrated a blatant lack of editorial and journalistic integrity in pursuit of a biased agenda.