BOSTON (WWLP) – The Joint Committee on the Judiciary heard testimony Tuesday on Governor Baker’s Dangerousness Legislation and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spoke in support at the request of the Governor.

House Bill (H) 4290: An Act Relative to Protect Victims of Crimes and the Public

The House bill would provide common-sense language that would help protect the public and help victims deal with and recover from certain crimes. It also borrows language from Mayor Sarno’s proposed bail reform legislation.

“Governor Baker’s Dangerousness Legislation is common sense legislation and would help the Commonwealth meet the fundamental government responsibility of keeping our residents and business community safe. 

The bill would help keep our residents and business community safe.  It would also provide better protections for victims of specific crimes so they can feel safe and secure and not feel threatened or harassed. 

Additionally, I am pleased to see that the Governor’s legislation also takes language from my bail reform legislation that was filed by State Representative Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. (H. 1839) to help even the playing field for our District Attorneys, in addition to defendants, so they can have the option to appeal the release decisions from district court to the state superior court.” 

Mayor Sarno

This bill is an updated version of previous legislation filed by the Governor to address public safety concerns across the Commonwealth.

Some of the key items the Governor’s pending legislation would address include:

  • The right for the prosecution to request a dangerousness hearing for certain criminal acts, such as rape or indecent assault and battery on a child, where the prosecution believes there is substantial danger to the public where the defendant is likely to commit another crime while released or poses a threat to the community and victim(s).
  • Strengthen the consequences for those who are found in violation of their release on bail and/or of pretrial conditions. 
  • Create a new felony offense for a defendant that has cut off their court-ordered GPS device.
  • Improve the system for notifying victims of crimes of abuse and other dangerous crimes when a defendant is set to be released.
  • Empower police to detain people found violating their court-ordered release conditions.  The current law does not allow this.
  • Authorize judges to revoke a person’s release when the offender is found violating their court-ordered condition(s), such as to stay away from the victim or from a public playground. 
  • Allow bail commissioners and bail magistrates to consider dangerousness in deciding whether to release an arrestee from a police station when court is out of session. 
  • Create a task force to recommend adding information to criminal records so that prosecutors and judges can make more informed recommendations and decisions about conditions of release and possible detention on grounds of dangerousness.
  • Clarify the permissible sentences following conviction for certain serious crimes: that probation is not a permissible sentence for home invasion or commission of a felony after two prior significant felony convictions; and that the sentence imposed on a person convicted of committing a felony while in possession of a firearm is a minimum mandatory sentence.

“This bill itself does not guarantee that an individual will be held on dangerousness. It expands the opportunity for the court to hold that hearing, and investigate with proper information as to whether this person should be held,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

“This is a common sense bill. This is standing up for the victims who have been victimized, but hopefully, for all so they don’t have to face these types of tragedies of being hurt, injured, and a lot of times killed,” said Mayor Sarno.

Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and State Representative Angelo Puppolo also testified in support of the bill. They have been fighting for bail reform legislation for years.

Representative Puppolo stated, “I applaud the Governor for sponsoring this legislation that will help address the public safety and quality of life concerns for the residents of our Commonwealth. The measures the Governor has purposed in his Dangerousness legislation will be taken under consideration by the Judiciary Committee and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate in reviewing this pending legislation. Additionally, Mayor Sarno and I have been strong advocates for trying to create meaningful bail reform so that ‘we the people’ and our district attorneys have the right to appeal the bail conditions set forth by the district courts to the state Superior Court, if needed. That is why I have refiled our bail reform legislation, H.1839, to help level the playing field for the Commonwealth.”