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New leader of Parole Board promises to use 'common sense'

Posted by Metro Desk  January 24, 2011 11:37 AM

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NATICK – The man Governor Deval Patrick has chosen to rebuild the state Parole Board started his first day on the job today, promising to use both new research and “common sense’’ to guide when offenders will be released from prison in the future.

Joshua I. Wall met with reporters for about five minutes at the board headquarters here amid evidence of the Patrick’s rapid reaction to the killing of a Woburn police officer by Domenic Cinelli, who was released on parole but not properly supervised.

While Wall is now the acting executive director and has been nominated by Patrick to become chairman of the board, the glass entry door marked with the board’s emblem still lists Mark D. Conrad as chairman and Donald Giancioppo as executive director. Both have been dismissed by the governor in the wake of the murder of Officer John Maguire.

Wall spoke with reporters for about five minutes today. Signaling the importance of his new job to Patrick, Wall was flanked by Public Safety Secretary Mary Heffernan and Patrick’s top press aide, Alex Goldstein. Patrick forced five of the second board members to resign following the Maguire killing.

”I’m excited to be here,’’ said Wall, a career prosecutor who most recently was the first assistant to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

According to state campaign finance records, Wall and his wife, Elizabeth, have donated several thousand dollars to the campaigns of Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.

In response to a reporter’s question, Wall said he did not get his new job as a political favor from Patrick.

“I didn’t ask for this,’’ Wall said. “I was asked to do this because of my record of public service.’’

Wall said his first policy task is crafting parole rules that incorporate new research that may help predict whether someone will return to a life of crime once freed from prison.

However, he added, the use of new assessment techniques does not replace “common sense.''

He also said that there is a chance someone who is granted parole in the future will commit new crimes. But he did guarantee that future parolees will be properly supervised and decisions on granting parole will be based on thorough study of the inmate.

Wall was asked if he believed people given life sentences – as was the case with Cinelli, who was serving three life sentences – should be released from prison under any circumstance.

“That’s not up to me,’ he said. “It’s the law.’’

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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