Convicted Woman Testifies Before Massachusetts Governor's Council

Deanne Hamilton has served more than half of a 7 1/2-year sentence on three drug charges

A Massachusetts woman who received a prison sentence commutation from Gov. Deval Patrick testified before the governor’s council Monday.

Deanne Hamilton has served more than half of a 7 1/2-year sentence on three drug charges, including possession of about 3.3 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute the drug in a school zone.

At the time, Hamilton was a drug addict in an apartment located about 700 feet from a school in Brockton. Hamilton says she is now sober.

Patrick made his first pardons and commutation on Nov. 10, the first commutation by a governor in 17 years.

If the council approves the commutation, Hamilton will become eligible for parole and have a parole hearing to determine if she will be released and under what conditions, according to the parole board officials.

If released, Hamilton said she wants to go to school to become an addiction counselor, since she said she can see the pain and heartbreak addiction caused her.

Hamilton's attorney, Kate O'Connell, said Hamilton has been sober for five years, has been a model prisoner and, for the first time, received counseling for sexual abuse, which is, according to her, has been at the root of Hamilton's drug addiction.

"I've seen lots and lots of my clients fail. But I've never seen a client put in that type of work, to really dig deeply and discover what's the root of the problem," O'Connell said.

Several members of the Governor's Council thought the seven and a half years under mandatory minimum guidelines was too harsh.

"I think it was overly harsh in the beginning. I think if it was a different district attorney's office, some other sentence would have been fashioned," Councilor Terrance Kennedy said.

However, other councilors expressed concern over Hamilton's long record, including multiple assaults and drug convictions.

"I think I have to look at the whole picture, that she has 20 years of really violent crimes and all found guilty. They're all found guilty," Marilyn Devany said. 

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