Martha Coakley on Crime
Martha Coakley, who is running for governor and is also supposedly against the death penalty, said she is sure "that after very thoughtful consideration, Attorney General Holder has made this decision based upon the facts of this case and applicable federal law." Candidates Juliette Kayyem &Don Berwick similarly hedged.
There's a Democrat in the White House, and Massachusetts Democrats don't want to cross him or his AG. There's also the posturing aspect of Holder's decision: seeking the death penalty increases the government's leverage to get a guilty verdict in return for life without parole. And to Massachusetts politicians, "Boston Strong" has come to mean looking tough to the nation on terrorism, not "squishy on crime."
But Coakley lobbied hard and persistently to keep Amirault in prison to avoid embarrassing the Middlesex DA's office that had originally prosecuted him. He was finally paroled during the Romney administration
Coakley, who signed a friend-of-the-court brief in September with 18 other attorneys general, said she got involved out of concern that federal courts might win more discretion to review state cases, which she said would severely burden Massachusetts and other states.
Coakley's opponent, Mike Capuano, noted: "If this case wins, this ma will be put to death. That's finality. And everybody I know that's opposed to the death penalty is on the other side in this case."
A spokeswoman for Coakley said yesterday that she "is firmly against the death penalty in any and all cases."
Many of the attorneys general who signed the brief were from more conservative states in the South and Midwest. Just three who signed it are from states that do not allow the death penalty: IA, MA, and NM. "It would be one thing if she was standing with all the attorneys general in the country or the progressive ones in New England," Capuano said. "She's standing with AL, TX, and GA. I don't get it."
A Coakley spokeswoman explained, "The attorney general's office signed on to the brief because of the far-reaching implications for Massachusetts, including the possibility that it could result in dangerous convicted criminals being released from prison,
A spokeswoman for Coakley said yesterday that she "is firmly against the death penalty in any and all cases. That is her position, and that will be her position as senator."
"With the 25th anniversary of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights, it is imperative that we continue to build upon the progress that has been made in this area. In drafting this legislation, we were careful to balance the diverse needs of victims who come to our office for help with the fiscal realities faced by Commonwealth," said Coakley. "The amendments proposed in this legislation are important and necessary updates that will enable our office to continue to adequately respond to the needs of victims of violent crimes and their families without requiring additional funding from the General Court."
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