Friday July 27, 2012

BOSTON (AP) - The state's top judge is expressing concerns about a criminal sentencing overhaul approved by the Legislature and awaiting action by Gov. Deval Patrick.

In a letter to Patrick on Thursday, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland said the bill's so-called "three strikes" provision fails to give judges any discretion in the sentencing of violent felons.

The measure would bar parole for career criminals after a third violent crime.

Ireland also said an automatic appeals process in the bill could unnecessarily clog the high court's already busy docket.

Patrick requested the opinion of Ireland as he decides what to do with the bill. He has until Sunday to sign, veto or seek amendments to the measure.

The governor has also said the bill is lacking in judicial discretion.