Spring 1998

Spring 1998

Prisoners and Profit

In North Carolina, prison inmates process meat for private companies. In Minnesota they make fishing lures. And in Montana they help do the ranching. Convicted criminals in 24 states across the country work for private business from behind bars. So why shouldn’t Massachusetts prisoners do the same? Legislators have been pondering that policy question, and(...)

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Peace Corps Nexus

What do Bob Vila, Paul Theroux, and David Magnani have in common? No, they have not appeared together in “This Old House,” on the cover of The Mosquito Coast, or on the floor of the state Senate. But these Massachusetts residents did give two years to the Peace Corps. They’re in the company of thousands(...)

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Citizen Lawmakers

He may be remembered best for his bill requiring dogs to wear diapers. But Rosaire Rajotte has pitched 685 other legislative proposals to clean up the Commonwealth. The retired maintenance man has filed more bills in the Massachusetts Legislature than many longtime legislators. And if you don’t believe him, “you can come here and count(...)

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Acting Governors

When William Weld resigned last summer, a constitutional process pushed Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci into the governor’s chair. And Cellucci enjoys all of the powers of the governor’s office — signing legislation, giving the “State of the State” address, and some day seeing his portrait on a State House wall. But one crucial difference separates(...)

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Lorna Burt is on the Case

“This next case is my worst nightmare,” says Hampden County Superior Court probation officer Lorna Burt as she steers her Nissan Pathfinder off the main drag onto a side road of a small Western Massachusetts milltown. “Jack,” who is 32, was convicted in 1990 of a second offense of indecent assault and battery on a(...)

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Happy Days Are Here For Now

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to state Senator Richard Tisei in his wood-paneled office on the third floor of the State House. Tisei is one of the newer generation of Republicans in the Legislature, one of those youthful politicians who might be described as “up-and-coming” if there were a functioning Republican Party in(...)

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Crime and Consequences

Crime and Consequences

I. A woman is shot in Springfield Shortly after midnight near the end of 1994, Juan Rosado left a Springfield house party carrying a loaded gun. The tatooed teenager belonged to the Los Solidos gang, which was suspected of shootings and robberies across the city. Rosado had just received word that members of a rival(...)

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Drug Court is in Session

The 32-year-old Roslindale woman, a former addict who had been arrested a year ago for heroin possession, stepped to the front of the crowded Mattapan courtroom for her weekly hearing before Judge Robert P. Ziemian. Wearing gray slacks and a pressed white blouse, she looked like someone on a job interview. She smiled as she(...)

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Water My Petunias

What is the point in having state legislators? What, if anything, do people expect from them? The author Alan Rosenthal tells of a Massachusetts state senator (unnamed!) who said he would regularly pick up clothes that constituents wanted exchanged at Filene’s Basement in downtown Boston. An Oklahoma representative once responded to a constituent’s complaint about(...)

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The Man Who Knows Too Much

The Decline of Representative Democracy: Process, Participation, and Power in State Legislatures By Alan Rosenthal CQ Press, Washington, D.C., 1998, 369 pages. There can’t be more than a cloakroomful of people in America who know as much as Alan Rosenthal does about our state legislatures, and thus (one would think) about the health of representative(...)

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