Saturday, May 25, 2024

Anthony Galluccio, the former state senator, mayor and city councillor from Cambridge, is getting no breaks. Last week Galluccio was denied early release from the Billerica House of Correction for violating conditions of probation.

The parole board — which can be asked to reconsider within 60 days — said Galluccio is still a public safety concern. He was convicted of drunken-driving incidents in 1984 and 1997 and got six months’ house arrest last December after pleading guilty to a hit-and-run incident that injured a 13-year-old boy and his father.

The probation violation that landed him in Billerica for a year: testing positive for using alcohol while under that house arrest. An editorial in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly edition of Jan. 11, though, lays out good arguments for the jail sentence having resulted from “A Rush to Judgment.”

Here’s a key paragraph, lifted from a reprinting on because the original editorial is behind a pay wall:

The process … seems to have ignored the lawmaker’s apparent substance issue(s).  Galluccio’s sins were much different than a politician who has engaged in corruption, but he was treated far more like a villain than “someone with problems.” Was treatment ever considered as part of Galluccio’s sentencing?

This is even more important than the writer’s questioning of the accuracy of the device used to measure the alcohol on Galluccio’s breath — concerns District Court Judge Matthew J. Nestor dismissed during sentencing.

It may strike some as perverse justice that a judge has given as little thought to treatment for apparent alcoholism as a drug addict may get. It’s usually the results of alcohol abuse that get shrugged off even as prisons are packed with casual drug users, let alone hard-core addicts.

But it’s really no justice at all if there is an illness to be treated, whether it’s for drug or alcohol addiction or any other affliction, and a prison sentence is given instead.

Again, Galluccio was not sent to Billerica for injuring pedestrians; he was serving house arrest for that. He was sent to Billerica for failing a breath test inadmissible at trial, according to the Lawyers Weekly, because it is “known to have serious reliability issues.”

Nestor was wrong to ignore that during sentencing and to impose jail over treatment. And while the parole board may have been acting reasonably in its May 14 decision, it is disappointing when considering it should never have had reason to hear the case.

When Galluccio’s case comes up again, the parole board should send him home to finish the original sentence. And Galluccio should pursue treatment faithfully for a disease likely as fatal to his career and good name as it could have been to a 13-year-old boy on the street.