Judge weighs in on commutations, women’s prison

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Appearing before the Governor’s Council to seek elevation to the Superior Court, District Court Judge Cathleen Campbell on Wednesday applauded coverage of the recent push to commute a Brockton man’s prison sentence, and knocked a proposed new women’s prison.

The council, which interviews and votes on prospective judges, is also the final arbiter of petitions for commutations if they are first approved by an advisory board and the governor. After discussing “injustices” of mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing disparities, Councilor Paul DePalo of Worcester asked the nominee whether she felt commutations “would be an effective, immediate, and targeted tool to remedy some of that.”

Campbell, a Boston resident who has served around nine years in the District Court, said that commutations “could be used to help to balance the system out a little bit more.” “I think that we really need to do more in terms of commutations. I was very happy with the article the Boston Globe wrote yesterday associated with Devin McCourty coming forward and speaking on behalf of that gentleman, William Allen, who was a joint venturer, under the law anyway, … and it pains me that we do not do more in that particular area,” Campbell said.

DePalo also raised with Campbell the potential new women’s prison which the Baker administration is studying for construction in Norfolk as a replacement for MCI-Framingham. Activists protested against new prison construction this summer and a senator filed a moratorium bill that would shelve the Norfolk project.

When DePalo brought up the potential new prison, Campbell said, “Well. We should be building a new women’s treatment facility. Because there aren’t enough beds for women who have substance abuse issues and who suffer from mental health issues. Not a prison, but treatment facility. That’s my opinion associated with that particular situation.”

Campbell, who ran twice for mayor of Boston before she joined the bench, is the daughter of a former State Police officer. She said while she has been active with many organizations, her current passion is a kids’ running club sponsored by the New Balance Foundation. A majority of councilors assured Campbell of their support at next week’s formal assembly.

“I want to clone you,” Councilor Marilyn Devaney said. Councilor Eileen Duff said, “Salem’s part of my district, and everyone there thinks you’re the second coming of Christ.”

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