Boston Globe
  March 13, 2001 

  Death penalty bill soundly defeated
  By Erin C. McVeigh, Globe Correspondent 

  The Massachusetts House yesterday defeated a bill to reinstate the death 
  penalty by a margin that surprised most advocates and opponents.

  The 92-to-60 vote, after just three hours of debate, differed greatly from 
  previous years, when lawmakers engaged in lengthy emotional battles over 
  the issue. In 1997, the bill was defeated by one vote after a lawmaker 
  switched his position at the last moment.

  "That's a pretty big margin," said Governor Paul Cellucci after 
  yesterday's vote. "Certainly, the speaker [Thomas M. Finneran] has made 
  this a priority not to pass the death penalty."

  Cellucci, who opposed the death penalty as a legislator, has been a vocal 
  advocate of capital punishment as governor. But with support for the death 
  penalty slipping among the public, as doubts emerge about the guilt of 
  some of those sentenced to die, he took a far less active role this year. 
  Yesterday, after the House action, he refrained from harshly attacking 
  opponents or chiding them for being soft on crime.

  Cellucci even declined to testify three weeks ago when the Criminal 
  Justice Committee held public hearings on the legislation. He also did not 
  send Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift.

  The wider margin occurred in part because new legislators replaced death 
  penalty supporters. Also, some legislators, such as Democratic 
  Representatives Robert Correia of Fall River and Colleen M. Garry of 
  Dracut, switched sides.

  "I was surprised the margin was that wide," said Correia. "No one expected 
  it to be a close call, but a 32-vote margin on the vote showed there were 
  a substantial number of members like myself."

  The defeat by the House yesterday means the measure cannot be brought up 
  again until 2003.

  Correia cited his diminished confidence in the criminal justice system as 
  a factor in his decision to abandon the death penalty. Massachusetts is 
  one of 12 states without a death penalty statute.

  "We should spend the money on programs to make the streets safer and look 
  to prevent murders rather than take out revenge after the fact," said 
  Garry, adding that the testimonies she heard as a member of the Criminal 
  Justice Committee influenced her switch.

  "I am not happy about it, but it is not a surprise to me," said House 
  minority leader Francis L. Marini, a Republican from Hanson. "We knew 
  exactly what the size of the vote was going to be." He added that as long 
  as he is in the Legislature, the debate will continue to resurface.

  Finneran said the large margin reflected nationwide trends. In Illinois, 
  which has had a capital punishment statute since 1977, more inmates have 
  been released from death row because of doubts about their guilt than have 
  been executed. DNA evidence and confessions from other people prompted 
  many of the releases. Last year, Governor George Ryan halted all 
  executions indefinitely.

  Marini attributed the margin to a "number of forces," including that newer 
  House members tend to be more liberal and that media attention has focused 
  on people on death row who have later been shown to be innocent.

  Finneran said the vote showed an "extraordinary movement away from the 
  death penalty," even in the midst of tragedies such as the killing of 
  seven office workers in Wakefield.