BOSTON--In an election-Year push for their anti-crime legistlation, Gov. William F. Weld '66 and Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci yesterday defended their proposal to impose a "Three Strikes, You're Out" penalty for habitual felons.
Testifying before a joint state legislature committee on criminal justice yesterday, Weld and Cellucci pressed for the passage of the Act Relative to the Punishment of Habitual Violent Felons.
Under the bill, called the Act Relative to the Punishment of Habitual Violent Criminals, any person who has committed three violent crimes--including murder, armed robbery, rape or kidnapping--would be imprisoned for life Without possibility of parole.
Weld said that felons guilty of repeat offenses do not deserve to be free.
"These human wrecking balls don't deserve yet another chance," the governor said. "They deserve nothing better than to spend the rest of their lives in prison."
Weld emphasized the importance of tougher and more stringent legislation in fighting against crime. "[The Massachusetts public is] tired of seeing violent criminals coming out of jail and committing more crime," Weld said.
During the hearing, the governor sought to allay legislators' fears that the bill will be expensive. Weld cited an initial analysis by the Department of Correction indicating that in six years only an additional 108 inmates will be in prison.
Cellucci expressed frustration at what he called the "slowness" of the legislative process while the situation on the streets steadily gets worse.
"We need to stop talking, and start acting," the lieutenant governor said.
Cellucci also criticized the legislature's unwillingness to accept capital punishment.
"Finally, even though Governor Weld and Irepeatedly have filed legislation to restorecapital punishment in Massachusetts, thiscommittee, and the entire legislature, has failedto hold even a single hearing on the death penaltyin this decade," Cellucci said.
The criminal justice committee's chaircriticized the governor and the lieutenantgovernor for using the media to attack thelegislature.
"This is ingenuous for you to suggest that thiscommittee is not working as fast as possible,"said Rep. Joseph B. McIntyre (D-Bristol). "We doas best as we can."
He also said that "more indepth commitment tothe legislative process is required" on the partof Cellucci and Weld.
But other members of the committee seemed moresympathetic towards the sentiment expressed by thegovernors.
Rep. William Constantino (R-Worcester) said,"The criminal justice in this state is a joke,"prompting the entire room to burst into laughter