Gov. Baker last on Friday continued his lame-duck streak of recommending pardons and commutations, proposing that a convicted murderer once sentenced to death after killing two people in Dorchester be made eligible for parole.
Baker commuted the first-degree murder sentence of Ramadan Shabazz to second-degree murder, which, his office said, would make the 72-year-old once sentenced to death immediately eligible for parole, if the commutation is approved by the Governor’s Council.
Shabazz was found guilty in 1972 of the murders of Harry Jeffreys and Calvin Thorn in Dorchester. He was sentenced to be executed, but that sentence was changed to life in prison when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1976.
“Mr. Shabazz’s crime was horrific, but he has not only taken full responsibility for his actions but has also dedicated his life in prison to bettering himself and serving as a mentor to others in prison,” Baker said in a statement. “Commutation serves as a strong motivation for an incarcerated individual to improve themselves, and Mr. Shabazz serves as a remarkable example of self-development for other incarcerated individuals.”
During his 50 years in prison, the governor’s office said, Shabazz participated in more than 50 rehabilitative programs like addiction treatment and anger management and has worked as a GED tutor and drug counselor to mentor young incarcerated men.
“He obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degree through Boston University’s prison education program. He successfully completed 48 furloughs before the program was terminated. He has been employed consistently during his time incarcerated, working jobs from kitchen services to law library clerk,” the administration said.
In its capacity as the Advisory Board of Pardons, the Parole Board recently recommended Shabazz’s commutation, the governor’s office said.
Before he leaves office, Baker also wants the Governor’s Council to revisit one of the nation’s most highly charged and disputed abuse cases of the 1980s with recommended pardons for Gerald “Tooky” Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, who were convicted of sexually abusing young children at their family’s Fells Acres day care center in Malden.
Baker said that the proceedings “took place without the benefit of scientific studies that have in the intervening years led to widespread adoption of investigative protocols designed to protect objectivity and reliability in the investigation of child sex abuse cases.”
The Amiraults have always maintained their innocence as their cases led to bitter debate over the methods used at the time to interview suspected child victims.