The impact of a new state law reforming criminal justice policies is drawing mixed reviews.
The law makes changes to the state’s bail system and limits the use of solitary confinement in prisons. Western Mass News found not all provisions are sitting well with Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. The bill signed by Governor Baker touches every aspect of the justice system which includes eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentences, to adding new mandatory minimums for those guilty of trafficking deadly opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. Hampden District Attorney Gulluni said last week’s fatal shooting of a Yarmouth police officer is a prime example of the need to keep repeat offenders off of the streets.
Thomas Latanowich was arraigned in court last week for fatally shooting Officer Sean Gannon.
Latanowich has more than 100 arraignments under his belt. Gulluni said his office has gone before judges to request revocation and dangerousness hearings. "We make those requests and sometimes we aren't getting what we want and we see tragic circumstances as a result," Gulluni said. However, Gulluni told Western Mass News one big positive change is the fentanyl statute, which will allow prosecutors to bring a trafficking charge against anyone selling at least ten grams of the drug.
The conviction could send someone to prison for up to 20 years. "To toughen that statute is an acknowledgement that fentanyl is incredibly lethal and dangerous," Gulluni added. It’s not just dangerous to those using the drugs. Just weeks ago several officers and EMT's in Holyoke were exposed to fentanyl and needed medical treatment. "We need to keep public policy up with how dangerous this substance is and getting this stuff out of the Commonwealth, and those who are trafficking and profiting we have to make sure we apply the law to the harshest extent," Gulluni continued. Governor Baker has now filed a request from lawmakers for $15 million to implement these changes this year.
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