SJC Sex Offender Ruling Another Affront to the Public

damoreBy: Joe D’Amore – October, 2014

The state’s highest judicial entity; the Supreme Judicial Court reached another stunning milestone in delivering an affront to the sensibilities and protections of law-abiding citizens on June 4th. In a 6-1 decision, the justices ruled that lifetime parole for sex-offenders is unconstitutional.

The court asserted that only the judicial branch of government has the constitutional power to sentence people. Therefore, the ruling ended the Parole Board’s role in community parole supervision for life of sex offenders. The Justices wrote that since the Parole Board has been controlling supervision of sex offenders “ …(this) constitutes an impermissible delegation by the executive branch of the core judicial function of imposing sentences, and therefore violates the mandate of {Article} 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights”.

With stunning speed and in a matter of a few days, hundreds of sex offenders have been released, and this has caught many law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys off guard.
It remains unclear how supervision, oversight of sex offenders and protecting the general public will align with this ruling. It certainly doesn’t portend well. And this is certainly reminiscent of the SJC ruling of last Christmas Eve, which declared that it is unconstitutional for criminals who commit the most heinous, murderous crimes as juveniles should be eligible for parole.
It is interesting to note further that Article 30 also indicates that no branch of government can exercise the authority or function of another branch. Amazingly though, for years the Judicial Branch had effectively “delegated” its sentencing function to the Parole Board and now suddenly, this has been withdrawn.

So my question is how will the Judicial Branch supervise sex offenders in this state? Since they cannot delegate it and since they’ve neutralized the Parole Board from its supervisory function, we have now entered a dangerous phase where only after a crime is committed can law enforcement and Parole Board intervene to protect the public.

I will scan for headlines in coming months to see how this all plays out.