‘The public deserves it’: District Attorney Quinn urges reform of Massachusetts’ dangerousness statute

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) — Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn wants to see changes within the dangerousness statue in hopes of keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, protecting lives of innocent citizens.

“You commit a new crime, it shouldn’t be a kindergarten time-out for 90 days and back on the street, if you’ve got the cash to make it,” the district attorney said Thursday.

Monday, 34-year-old Hector Fernando Bannister-Sanchez was charged in connection to a fatal crash in Taunton, while he was the target of a current drug trafficking investigation.

Bannister-Sanchez was being watched by the Massachusetts State Police Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction and Enforcement Team, when he picked up drugs from a stash house and brought them to the home of a suspected customer on East Main Street in Middleborough.

Witnesses told police the suspect was driving at a high rate of speed through Middleborough, Lakeville, and Taunton.

In Taunton, police found that the Bannister-Sanchez’s car had crashed into 54-year-old Lori Medeiros’ Ford Fusion. After the crash, police said the suspect ran from the scene with a backpack.

Bannister-Sanchez was out on bail and on probation at the time of the crash. Now, he’s charged with manslaughter.

Quinn said the suspect could potentially be back out on the streets in less than 90 days.

Here’s why: In Massachusetts, serious drug charges and even manslaughter are not included as factors in a dangerousness hearing, which determines whether a defendant is deemed too dangerous to be released.

The district attorney wants to see the legislature reform the statute to include charges like manslaughter and rape of a child, when a prosecutor requests a dangerousness hearing.

It’s not going to violate any rights. The only rights that are being violated now are the victim and society,” he said. 

The most important amendments Quinn wants to see are adding additional crimes like manslaughter and sexual crimes against children, as well as ensuring a defendant can not be released after 90 days after already violating the terms of their bail from a previous case.

Certainly to not do so, would allow an unfair advantage to certain criminals to remain out on the street when they have no business being there,” he said.

Quinn said he looks forward to talking with Gov.-elect Maura Healey on the dangerousness issue and the changes he wants to see made.

Categories: Massachusetts, News