, Salem, MA

Local News

February 21, 2011

State parole system called a 'sad mess'

Governor's councilor says 'Chucky' Doucette case points to need for reform

SALEM — Two recent instances in which men paroled from multiple life sentences went on to re-offend has one member of the Governor's Council questioning whether Massachusetts needs to scrap the entire parole system.

Mary Ellen Manning, who represents the North Shore on the board that approves judicial and Parole Board appointments, said yesterday that the current system "is a sad mess" that ought to be replaced with something similar to the federal parole system.

And sentencing ought to be done within strict guidelines, she believes.

The arrest last week of Charles "Chucky" Doucette, 51, of Peabody on domestic abuse charges has again raised questions about the state Parole Board's controversial 2006 decision to grant Doucette parole.

Doucette will be in Salem District Court on Thursday, where prosecutors will ask a judge to keep him locked up until trial on charges that he dragged his girlfriend down the street with his car and threatened to shoot her if she made a complaint.

If convicted, he's facing a return to state prison as well, where he could end up serving out the rest of his life sentence.

Doucette was serving seven life sentences for the execution-style shooting of Raymond Bufalino in Salem 1987, and a pair of home invasions he committed while out on bail awaiting a retrial.

His second-degree murder conviction came as the result of a plea bargain struck by prosecutors, who were concerned about retrying Doucette in front of the same judge who had already set aside Doucette's original, first-degree murder conviction following a trial.

Under Massachusetts law, a second-degree murder conviction makes someone parole-eligible after 15 years.

Doucette made parole on his first try and was released in 2007, over the objections of not only two members of the Parole Board, but Essex County prosecutors, who argued against his release.

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