State Considers Parole Hires, Reforms

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 14, 2011


BOSTON — Action on Beacon Hill this week will focus on changes in the Bay State's troubled parole oversight system.

On Monday, officials in the administration of Gov Deval Patrick testify on threats to the state's mental-health and substance-abuse services. The programs face fundin problems: In November, when Massachusetts voters decided to eliminate the sales tax on alcohol, they also eliminated the main source of funding for the state's drug-and-alcohol abuse programs.

Also on Monday, the Governor’s Council begins confirmation hearings on Patrick’s nominees to the state’s embattled parole board. The former members of the parole board resigned under fire after a Woburn police officer was shot and killed by a parolee.

On Tuesday, South Hadley Democrat John Scibak speaks at a forum on bullying and youth violence at Wheelock College in Brookline. Scibak's hometown was thrown into the national spotlight last year when 15-year-old Phoebe Prince killed herself after allegedly being bullied by classmates at school and online. Tuesday's forum comes on the heels of a bullying-prevention conference at the White House last week, which featured several participants from Massachusetts.

On Wednesday, lawmakers hold a hearing on a number of bills aimed at overhauling the state's parole system. One proposal, known as Melissa's Law, would establish a  “three strikes” rule, putting violent offenders in prison for life if they're convicted of a felony three times.

On Friday, an energy trade group holds an informational session for businesses on the state's requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under state law, Massachusetts industry must dramatically cut its carbon emissions by year 2020.

And on Sunday, lawmakers trade barbs at the annual St. Patrick's Day roast in South Boston.  At last year's event, the main prop was a blown-up image of young Scott Brown's Cosmo centerfold. Those in the know say prime fodder for this year include Governor Deval Patrick's 10 day trip to Israel and England and Brown's 2012 reelection bid.

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