Parole board nominee rips council at rowdy meeting

June 21st, 2019

Opposition among members of the Governor’s Council to putting another prosecutor on the Parole Board could derail Gov. Charlie Baker’s newest nominee, who chastised the council at her recent confirmation hearing and openly contemplated withdrawing.

Baker nominated Springfield District Court chief prosecutor Karen McCarthy for the Parole Board in late May, the latest nominee from the governor with a background in criminal prosecution.

McCarthy has spent a career working in the Springfield area courts, including the drug court. She told the council that her work as a prosecutor has given her experience evaluating defendants and differentiating between individuals who pose a threat to the community and those who might benefit from a “second chance.”

The attorney, however, choked back tears on Wednesday after listening to hours of testimony and comments from councilors questioning her selection by the governor.

The News Service reviewed audio from the hearing where she told the council that she believes she would have been treated differently if she was a white male.

“I just want to say I’m a working mother trying to do a very important job. My husband is great but the burden always falls on the mother, okay, because when things go wrong they look for their mother,” McCarthy said.

Elizabeth Matos, the executive director of Prisoner’s Legal Services, cited a 2015 study done by the Council of State Governments that found the rate of parole in Massachusetts had fallen to 38 percent, from about 80 percent in 1980.

She blamed the decline in parolees on a “history of embracing reactionary non-evidence based practices in reaction to isolated incidents,” such as the 2010 murder of a Woburn cop by parolee Dominic Cinelli.

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