Former Gov. Mitt Romney’s administration failed to act on disciplinary recommendations that would have kept ex-con killer Daniel Tavares locked up another year - and behind bars at the time he was accused of killing a newlywed couple in Washington state.
Despite Tavares’ long history of violence, the Romney-led Department of Correction took no action on recommendations that he be stripped of “good time” because of assaults on prison guards in 2003 and 2005, said sources familiar with a state probe into the case.
Instead, Tavares was allowed to cash in on those 360 days of “good
time” to get out of prison July 16, 2007, sources said. It was just 123
days later that newlyweds Brian and Beverly Mauck were slaughtered in
“If that time had been (served), he would still be incarcerated and would not have killed those two individuals,” said one source familiar with the probe launched by the Patrick administration. “Tavares’ pattern of behavior before and during incarceration pointed to a person who was going to do this.”
The revelations come one week before the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa, where Romney is counting on a strong showing to propel his GOP candidacy for president.
Romney has decried the early release of Tavares by a judge, but the “good time” could have been revoked administratively while he was governor under the state prison disciplinary process, sources said.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom referred questions about the probe findings to the DOC, saying, “The governor’s office does not keep track of internal disciplinary reports filed against individual inmates, nor does it have specific knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the sentences or terms of release for each of the thousands of prisoners in the state penal system.”
The investigation into the Tavares case found that the Romney administration mistakes were part of a broader pattern of lapses that stretched back to 1993. Overall, the probe uncovered six disciplinary complaints against Tavares between 1993 and 2005 that should have kept him in prison a total of 720 days, nearly two years beyond his release in July.
The DOC’s failure to act on the recommendations stretched over the administrations of Republican Govs. William Weld, Jane Swift and Romney.
But sources said the single most egregious breakdown came under Romney in 2003, when administration officials missed a 60-day deadline for filing paperwork to strip Tavares of 300 days of previously awarded “good time.”
In 1994, the automatic granting of “good time” to prisoners was eliminated under truth-in-sentencing laws, but Tavares began his sentence in 1993 and was still able to legally claim 3,000 days given to him upon incarceration.
By the time of his release last month, Tavares had lost more than 1,600 of those days due to assaults and abusive behavior, but the Patrick administration probe found that nearly one-third of the 17 complaints against him were never acted upon, sources said.
In five instances, state officials could find no paperwork indicating why Tavares was not docked “good time” for his assaults, each of which resulted in recommendations from a hearing officer that his sentence be extended between 60 and 300 days, according to the sources.
“The frustrating part is that (Tavares) had been identified early on as a dangerous person, and the system still failed all along the way,” said a source familiar with the investigation. “This guy scared everybody.”
Although the investigation into the case is ongoing, Patrick administration officials have begun examining the records of 800 prisoners incarcerated before 1994 to determine whether their sentences should be extended because of disciplinary problems. The administration has hired an outside consultant to assist with the effort.