Luckily, when we’re opposing a bill, it takes many steps to become law. Right now the Mass. legislature is heating up for the end of the session July 31 and approving the state budget, so the pot is boiling over with legislators pushing laws through.
We must stop H4184 in its tracks. This dastardly bill, which puts more people in prison needlessly, for longer, passed the House. We must call and email and visit lawmakers to prevent it from being heard in the Senate. Here’s what to do, and who to call, thank to activists Patty Garin and Jean Trounstine.
The Massachusetts Senate has still not met concerning H.4184. And we do not have a definitive day the bill will be heard. We are facing a crisis in Massachusetts juvenile sentencing and parole policies. We need your help!
Public pressure helps, we know that, and so far we have done well, but we need to keep it up! THIS IS A CRUCIAL TIME FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE. We are once again asking those of you who have not called to please do so this week. Those who have called, please follow up with emails.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.
THIS ACT CONCERNS JUVENILE SENTENCING AND PAROLE SETBACKS FOR ALL LIFERS. H.4184 would thwart the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that sentencing children to life in prison violates the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The bill would require that a juvenile convicted of murder (other than “felony-murder”) serve a minimum of 25 years before becoming eligible for consideration for parole; juveniles convicted of felony murder would serve a minimum of 20 years. This bill would result in de facto life sentences for young people.
Also, H.4184 bill would allow the Parole Board to impose a 10-year wait – double the current 5-year setback – before an individual who has been denied parole can go before the board again. THIS UNPRECEDENTED TEN YEAR SETBACK APPLIES TO ALL PERSONS SERVING LIFE SENTENCES – THOSE SENTENCED AS ADULTS AS WELL AS THOSE SENTENCED AS JUVENILES.
CONTACT YOUR OWN SENATOR https://bitly.com/yourMAlegislators at the State House or in their district offices AND MAKE AT LEAST THREE OTHER CALLS, with this message:
WE WANT 15/5 and WE OPPOSE H.4184:
1. Youth should have an initial opportunity to seek parole no later than *15 YEARS* into their sentence.
2. Everyone should be eligible for further parole hearings, if needed, no later than every *5 YEARS*. Remember eligibility does not guarantee parole only opportunity.
We hope many you will CALL and EMAIL to urge Senate leadership to reject these extreme sentencing and parole provisions. There will be more info as we hear about it but for now PLEASE ACT THIS WEEK — of July 1, 2014.