Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brockton Man Seeks Parole Board Appointment

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Brockton’s James Rober said he may not have a law degree, and he may not have worked in the criminal justice system, but after more than 20 years of trying to prevent his brother’s killers from being released from prison—he knows something other potential state Parole Board appointees might not.
“To be a victim or a survivor of such a tragedy, to know what people go through—it would bring a different perspective,” Rober said. (Pictured inset)
Rober, 44--whose paraplegic brother Paul Jr. (Pictured above) was brutally tortured and murdered in Plymouth in 1986-- has responded to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s call last month for Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a victim’s advocate to the state’s Parole Board in the wake of the resignations of five members, including the director, following the killing of a Woburn police officer by parolee Domenic Cinelli.
Patrick has named Josh Wall, first assistant district attorney for Suffolk County, as interim executive director and is expected to make Wall the parole board’s chairman.
That leaves four more spots and Rober hopes to fill one of them.
He has sent a letter to Patrick outlining the anguish and torment of Paul Jr.’s death and continue his late father Paul Sr.’s (Pictured below) tireless efforts to help violent crime victims--including heading the Boston Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children--by asking for an appointment to the parole board.
While Patrick and members of his staff have been mum on the idea of appointing a victim’s advocate, Rober said he was contacted earlier this week by Patrick’s Assistant Director of Boards and Commissions Rachel Charnley who explained to Rober how the process works and that the governor’s office is reviewing his submission.
Rober said he was told following a review of his resume and background checks he would hear from Charnley shortly.
An email from Patrick spokesman about the matter simply states, “We are in the process of reviewing numerous highly qualified candidates from a range of backgrounds for the remaining parole board vacancies, and look forward to making those nominations in the coming days.”
There was no response to additional email requests for comment about the idea of having a victim’s advocate on the board.
Parole board members earn about $95,000 a year, the chairman, about $125,000 and serve on a board that hears more than 8,000 hearings annually.
Rober said he understands that inmate rights advocates and others might believe having a victim or victim survivor on the board might create undue bias toward continued incarceration or conflict of interest, however he believes currently there might not be enough scrutiny—as the Cinelli case has shown.
“I’m not as biased as some people might think, there is reform, but in this case the system didn’t work.” Rober said.
The parole board resignations followed the murder of Woburn veteran police officer John Maguire by 57-year-old Domenic Cinelli, who after 21 months on parole shot and killed Maguire during a botched jewelry robbery Dec. 26 that also left Cinelli dead.
Cinelli was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences in 1986 for a long string of armed robberies, armed assaults and escapes, including shooting a security guard and assaulting a police officer.
Under state law, because Cinelli was not convicted of first-degree murder, a sentence of life carries with it the possibility of parole after 15 years.
A review of his parole by John Grossman, undersecretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, showed numerous flaws in Cinelli’s 2008 parole hearing and subsequent release in March, 2009.
Grossman found the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Middlesex County police departments were not properly notified that Cinelli would be before the Parole Board in Dec. 2008—something as a parole board member Rober said he would make sure would not happen again.
“I would ask the question if the proper authorities and victims had been notified. That’s something that has to be done,” Rober said.
Suffolk County officials were notified of the parole hearing but because of a software glitch the underlying crimes in the case were wrong.
Neither Middlesex or Suffolk officials attended the hearing or submitted opposition to Cinelli’s parole and have since said if they were properly notified would have voiced concern over Cinelli’s release.
Grossman’s report also found that Cinelli’s parole officer did not follow-up on certain required contacts during the five months leading up to the robbery to ensure Cinelli was following the conditions of parole.
Rober said he realizes the system isn’t perfect, but maybe it is time that victims voices should be heard as a member of the Parole Board and not just as people in chairs in front of the board.
“I know that there are inmate’s rights, but what about the victims and their survivors,” Rober said.

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