Statement by Les Gosule
on final approval of Melissa's Law

After a thirteen year struggle to achieve this new public safety law, I want to first dedicate this victory to my daughter, Melissa. Melissa, this one's for you. In your life, you always cared and did good things for others. May your death also bring some good to others through this new law.

Winston Churchill said that government's first duty is to protect the physical safety of its citizens. Melissa's Law will begin to save lives, and save innocent people from injury, as soon as it's signed.

To violent criminals and their apologists who complain that Melissa's Law is too harsh, I say:

"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime!"
If you don't want to go to prison under this law, then take responsibility for your actions and refrain from committing multiple acts of violence. It's that simple.

There are so many people to thank for the achievement of Melissa's Law.

First, thank you to Governor Deval Patrick. He kept his promise to me that he would sign a fair and balanced bill. We have disagreed at times about some aspects of this legislation, but there is no doubt that the Governor is a man of personal integrity.

Thank you also to Speaker Robert DeLeo and President Therese Murray, without whose leadership this day would not be possible. Thanks to Rep. Brad Hill and DA Gerry Leone, the original sponsors of this legislation who stood with me when few others did. Thanks to Sen. Scott Brown who was the main sponsor in the state Senate before 2010.
Thanks to the chief sponsors, Sen. Bruce Tarr, Rep. Jim Dwyer, and former Sen. Steve Baddour who did incredible work to craft and pass this law. And thanks to members of the conference committee who worked diligently for months to produce a compromise bill.
Thank you also to WBZ's Dan Rea who always had faith that informed citizens can accomplish good. Most of the media reported objectively on our story; thanks especially to Fox News, NECN, and the Boston Herald for their high levels of coverage. And thanks to Mike Scully whose sharp organizing and communications skills were invaluable to this victory.
Thanks to the state's law enforcement community and organizations for their support, especially members of the Woburn PD and Chuck Maguire, brother of Officer Jack Maguire.
Thanks to the thousands of ordinary citizens who demanded passage of this common sense legislation, and all the legislators who listened to their constituents and put the needs of public safety above the interests of the criminal defense industry.
This victory just goes to show that it's still possible for the good guys to win, and that good things can still come out of Beacon Hill!

Thanks to everyone who helped in any way. I'm sorry if I've left out any names. So many helped, and I hope to thank everyone personally in the days and weeks ahead.
Les Gosule


Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick
Press Release
Contact: Kim Haberlin, Bonnie McGilpin, Chelsie Ouellette – 617-725-4025
BOSTON – Tuesday, July 31, 2012 – The following is a statement from Governor Deval Patrick:

I asked for a balanced bill and, after many twists and turns, the Legislature has given me one. Because of the balance between strict sentences for the worst offenders and more common sense approaches for those who pose little threat to public safety, I have said that this is a good bill. I will sign this bill.
The bill contains important parole reforms for those convicted of the worst crimes; but just as important are the parts of this bill that reform the sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders. Those changes start to move us away from the expensive and ineffective policy of warehousing non-violent drug offenders towards a more reasonable, smarter supervision and substance abuse program. Preliminary estimates are that nearly 600 non-violent drug offenders would be immediately eligible for supervised parole, setting them on a path to recovery and stability and saving the state millions of dollars.
But our work is not complete. I still believe there is a necessary role for judicial discretion when it comes to sentencing and many of the advocates of this bill have pledged to support that next year.
We must also get serious about reforming mandatory minimum sentences. Like I said, the warehousing of non-violent drug offenders has proven to be a costly failure. It does nothing to improve public safety and it doesn’t deal with the substance abuse that is the source of the problem. States across the country are moving away from it and we must, too.
The Senate President and the Speaker have pledged to return to the subject of mandatory minimum sentencing early in the next session. I take them at their word. When we do, I trust the decisions we make will be based on data about the costs and trade-offs inherent in the choices we make. I have asked the Special Commission to Study the Commonwealth’s Criminal Justice System to give us a thorough analysis by year-end. I have also asked the Parole Board to give priority review to the supervised release of non-violent drug offenders, consistent with the terms of this bill.
This bill is an emotional issue for people on all sides. I understand the concerns of those who worry we have taken judgment out of the justice system and the pain and frustration of the families of victims of violent crime. For all those interests, and those of the public at large, this bill is a good start. I look forward to finishing this work together in the next session.