A Breakdown of the Most Basic Functions in State Government

October 17, 2012
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It is absolutely beyond belief that one rogue chemist in a relatively unknown drug testing lab in Jamaica Plain could unravel one of the most basic functions of government – protecting the people.

As you read this, most likely, inmates throughout the state prison system are preparing to collect their “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

They will not pass ‘Go.’

Instead, they will be coming directly to our communities – thwarting the good work that was done by local police departments and the DA’s Office in convicting them.

The Drug Lab scandal could be the most damning development in state government for many years – since former Gov. Michael Dukakis championed the ill-fated prison furlough program. There is nothing more basic than to prosecute criminals and keep them in jail.

A good friend of ours here at the newspaper has, for years, said that you can build all the schools you want, invest in all the developments you can find, and create jobs up and down the pay scale, but if you don’t have a safe public – then all of those things are for naught.

And what we don’t have right now in Massachusetts is public safety, or a government that displays any sort of common sense.

Not only is the situation frustrating on its face, but also the handling of it couldn’t be worse. Politicians such as Gov. Deval Patrick and others have been so busy running away from the scandal (God forbid it foils a future presidential run for our carpet bagging governor!), that they have left it in the hands of people who are just overwhelmed and, perhaps, too sympathetic for the convicts now getting the gift of a lifetime.

Let’s be straight.

Many of those being released are hardened criminals, and most of them come from our most hardened state prisons. They are repeat drug dealers, gunrunners, sex traffickers, gang bangers and career miscreants. They are people we had to remove from our streets because they contributed to an overwhelming amount of chaos, death and destruction.

And keep in mind, it already takes a monumental crime (and several of them) to actually get locked up in Massachusetts. Already, most people skate by scot-free in our most liberal of liberal court system.

We thought they were gone for a time; that we would find peace as they paid their debt to society.

Some have been away for a number of years and were supposed to be gone much longer.

Now they’re out and in some cases, living next door to us once again.

It’s at a time like this when our so-called leaders shouldn’t be running away from the problem, but doing everything in their power to minimize the impact and take a conservative (and perhaps Constitutionally challengeable) position in letting out the most serious criminals.

But that’s not what we get, and I think from what I have read, our governor and his administration might have more sympathy for the convicts than they do for those of us in Revere, Chelsea and Boston who now have to live next door to a problem that was solved. Let’s never forget that most of these administration officials, including our governor and his judicial appointments, do not have to live in the communities where these released convicts will now settle and, presumably, resume their illicit activities.

The developments in the case run on a day-to-day basis, and it becomes more outrageous each day.

As a primer, just two weeks ago the bleeding began in the Edward Brooke Courthouse in Boston. Several inmates were let go, and that sparked controversy with District Attorney Dan Conley – who intimated that one judge charged with overseeing the cases in question was being far too liberal. Conley alleged that the judge was letting convicts out whose cases really had very little to do with rogue chemist Annie Dookhan.

A governor-appointed task force, let by seasoned prosecutor Doug Meier, was set up. Now, the DA has set up his own task force.

And this week, the court system has been going from prison to prison interviewing prisoners and hearing cases over a live video feed. Dozens of prisoners at each of our hardened state prisons line up to sit in front of the camera every day, and good many of them find themselves hitting the streets by the end of the day.

On Monday, the video feed found its way to MCI-Norfolk for a review of 27 cases. By the end of the day, 11 of those state prisoners were released to the streets, though they were ordered to wear a GPS bracelet and abide by a curfew.

In that pile of 11 men, there was the case of Yatos Pinto.

He was sentenced to three years for a repeated offense of dealing cocaine. According to the DA’s Office, he has a long history of violence, firearms convictions and assault charges.

Say hello to your new neighbor.

On Tuesday, the video feed visited MCI-Concord for a review of 30 cases. Many of those will also probably result in the release of similar criminals, and when all is said and done, hundreds upon hundreds will most likely be released.

Does anyone think this is acceptable?

I doubt it.

This is the most basic of things, and our state government completely fell on its face in completing such a simple task. It’s literally a breakdown in the most basic of things, basic things similar to keeping the roads smooth and filling the potholes.

But then again, state government has proven they can’t get that right either – that is, unless the President or First Lady come driving in our direction.

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