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BAKER GETS PUSHBACK ON DANGEROUSNESS BILL [+VIDEO]

By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 14, 2019.....Civil rights activists and advocates for people in the criminal justice system told lawmakers Tuesday that passing Gov. Charlie Baker's bill to make it easier for police and the court system to detain defendants deemed a risk to the community would be taking a step backward from last year's criminal justice reform effort.


Gov. Charlie Baker prepared to testify before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday on his bill to allow judges to consider a defendant's dangerousness in deciding whether to hold the person pre-trial. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

The first bill Baker filed in his second term (H 66) would allow judges to consider more than just the specific charges before them when making a decision to release a defendant, expand the list of offenses that can be used to hold a defendant as a dangerous person before their trial, and would permit prosecutors to seek a dangerousness hearing at any point in a criminal proceeding, not just at the outset.

"This legislation strengthens the ability of judges to enforce conditions of pretrial release and closes loopholes that currently limit or prevent effective action to address legitimate safety concerns," Baker told the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon. He added, "We literally have a system now where a judge and a court have to make a decision about whether someone is dangerous based on one thing: the issue for which they are in front of the court that day. Nothing they've done before can become part of that conversation or that decision or that discussion. In addition to that, you can only call for a dangerousness hearing in very few instances."


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