Suffolk County

Abuse survivors vow fight over dangerousness bill is not over

BOSTON — At the State House, Governor Charlie Baker’s battle to change the state’s dangerousness law is in sudden death overtime.

The Governor’s bill would have given Massachusetts judges more leeway in holding hearings to determine which defendants are too dangerous to release before trial.

It would also make the act of cutting off a GPS monitoring device a felony.

For months, the Governor and his administration heard emotional testimony from abuse victims at roundtables across the state.

For many victims, it was the first time they publicly spoke about their abuse.

But last week, the Joint Judiciary Committee effectively killed the bill, sending it to committee.

Not only that, but committee co-chairs, Senator James Eldridge and Representative Michael Day dismissed the victim’s roundtables as a “well-crafted public relations tour.”

Comments that have left abuse victims outraged.

“It’s so belittling and demeaning. To have what happened to us described as almost like a circus act is shocking that someone could be that callous,” Michelle Linn, an abuse survivor told me.

“I just don’t understand. I am so overwhelmed by it. I am so insulted. I just feel like we are so disrespected. And I just do not understand what their motivation behind doing this is at all,” said Jo, an abuse survivor said.

The dangerousness bill is dead, but the Governor is not giving up.

He’s threatening to veto a budget amendment allowing free phone calls to prison inmates, if key elements to his dangerousness bill are not included.

“We think the legislature owes those folks an apology, at least those two gentlemen owe those people an apology,” Governor Baker said on Thursday.

“I would like to hear from them that they are going to do something to protect victims. What is an apology going to do when people are allowed to cut off their GPS or re-offend, or rape children?” Jo said.

The dangerousness bill might be one of Governor Baker’s final legislative pushes.

But victims tell me, no matter what happens, they are not going away.

“I’m not done. So, we will continue to push for this. I know I have many other fellow survivors who feel the same way,” Linn said. “We’re not doing this just for Governor Baker. We are doing this for the victims.”

I reached out to the offices of both Judiciary Committee Co-chairs, asking for comments about all this. I did not hear back.

This legislative session ends on Sunday.

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