I was appalled and very sad to read of the death of Officer John Maguire of Woburn, MA. He was 60 years old, and on the point of retirement. The Boston Herald reports:
The town’s post-Christmas peace was shattered by ex-con Dominic Cinelli, 57, of Woburn, and his plan to use the blizzard’s cover to knock over the department store. His scheme ended in the exchange of gunfire, which left him dying on the snow-swept, diamond-strewn pavement.
. . .
Maguire, son of the late Woburn Police Chief Thomas J. Maguire, had just come from talking a woman out of committing suicide, the current chief said. Responding to the robbery call, he cut off Cinelli’s escape in the parking lot, traded fire with him, and died almost immediately after being shot four times in the torso. Cinelli, also shot multiple times, died on the spot.
There's more at the link.
To make matters worse, Cinelli was only able to kill Officer Maguire because of flawed decision-making in the criminal justice system.
Dominic Cinelli, the career criminal whose jewelry heist left him and the cop who stopped him both dead in the snow outside Kohl’s in Woburn on Sunday night, had three decades of violence and hard prison time behind him when it all came to a bloody end on a snow-packed parking lot.
Cinelli was on parole when he killed Woburn Police Officer James “Jack” Maguire, a married father of two, in Sunday night’s exchange of gunfire, authorities said.
. . .
He was ... serving three life sentences, when in 2005, a state appeals court ruled that he should be eligible for parole, according to a record of his parole hearing. After four years, the Parole Board released him, and he walked in February 2009, state records show.
Again, more at the link.
Speaking as a former prison chaplain, I've seen this pattern repeated far too many times to be comfortable with the present system. Over and over again, I've seen parole granted to convicted felons solely on the basis of what psychologists, or sociologists, or academic specialists 'think' or 'feel' about their prospects. In many cases, the felon's atrocious conduct record behind bars has been ignored or disregarded by the parole board. They haven't considered it 'relevant', or they've argued that conduct in so unnatural a setting as a prison is no indicator of how someone will behave in 'normal society'. As a result, good men like Officer Maguire end up dead.
In my memoir of prison ministry (as yet unpublished, but I'm hoping for good news in 2011 - watch this space!), I said this:
... we can't keep [inmates] locked up once [they've] done [their] time. Sometimes we [prison staff] wish we could go to court and say bluntly, "If you let this man out, he's going to hurt or kill others. He's a permanent danger to society. He needs to stay behind bars." Very sadly, we don't have the legal right to do that, and the courts don't have the right to order permanent incarceration for such offenders. Every year we're legally obliged to discharge inmates on completion of their sentences, in the sure and certain knowledge that someone out there is going to suffer, perhaps even die, because we're doing so. It tears your guts out sometimes.
In this case, there wasn't even the excuse that Cinelli had completed his sentence. Someone got all touchy-feely, and let him out early. As a result, a good man is dead.
May the soul of Officer Maguire rest in peace, and may his family receive whatever comfort can be given, by God or man, in such a tragedy.
Will there be consequences for those who let his killer loose, to kill again? I doubt it . . .