BOSTON (AP) _ A prison inmate who was recommended for early release three times by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis during his first term now appears on the state's list of 10 most-wanted fugitives.

Authorities said they have been seeking Norman A. Porter, 46, since he walked away from the Norfolk pre-release center Dec. 23, in his third escape in nearly 25 years of imprisonment. Authorities put him on the list Feb. 15.

Porter disappeared after a decade of unsuccessful attempts to win parole through commutation of his sentence. His legal history includes one commutation approved by Dukakis in 1975 and two Dukakis recommendations in 1978 that the Governor's Council did not approve.

''He had quite a good record at the time,'' Dukakis said. ''These cases are always difficult judgment calls to make.''

''I think the Parole Board itself is reviewing these cases more carefully, and so am I,'' Dukakis said.

In his first term, 1975-78, Dukakis granted 43 commutations, all but six to convicted murderers. In the three years of this term, which began in 1983, there have been six commutations, five to convicted murderers.

He predicted he would grant fewer commutations in his current administration than the dozen that former Gov. Edward J. King did between 1979 and 1982.

State Republican Chairman Andrew Natsios has been critical of Dukakis' commutations.

''In this particular case, he has shown his judgment isn't very good,'' he said. ''He certainly isn't protecting the public safety.''

Porter had been convicted twice of second-degree murder. He was originally convicted in the 1960 shooting death of John J. Pigott, a part-time clerk, during a robbery at a Saugus clothing store. The victim's cousin opposed Porter's 1985 commutation petition.

''Norman's escaping again is even more support for my side,'' said Pigott's cousin, Doris Evans, 38, of Lynn. ''I told you he wasn't ready. I told you he wasn't rehabilitated.''

In the second case, Porter pleaded guilty in the shooting death of a prison master killed when Porter and another inmate escaped from jail in 1961.