[Church or personal address]
Here is a letter to print out and distribute to your circle of influence to send to state legislators by Jan. 15, 2015.
To identify your state lawmakers and their room numbers at the Statehouse, go to: https://malegislature.gov/people/search
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 01233
The Honorable ____________________________
I am writing to express my support of bills to end mass incarceration in the 2015-16 legislative term and invite you to co-sponsor one or all of them. The bills are as follows.
- End Mandatory Minimums – sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Cream, D-Newton, and Rep. Ben Swan, D-Springfield, to allow drug offenders to be sentenced based on their role in the offense, prior criminal history (if any) and need for treatment.
- Reform pre-trial and bail practices – Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Rep. Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland), to transform a justice system based on wealth to a risk-based system. One-fourth of the 22,000 people incarcerated in the state are awaiting trial, without being found guilty of a crime.
- End collateral sanctions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles – Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain) and Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). Remove the requirement that a person convicted of a drug offense loses driving privileges for up to five years and pay $500 or more to reinstate.
- Implement restorative justice programs – Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Rep. Sean Garbally (D-Arlington) to provide an opportunity to repair the harm caused by the event, as opposed to handing down a punishment.
- Expungement – Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), to expunge a criminal record in which the defendant was mistakenly brought into the criminal justice system.
The five bills above are endorsed by the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus, led by Rep. Sannicandro and Sen. Eldridge, which I hope you will join, if you haven’t yet. I encourage you to sign on as a co-sponsor of one or all of these bills before Jan. 15, 2015. As you know, adding your name to the front page of a bill increases the likelihood that the legislation will pass.
I also support three additional bills that will: redefine the criteria of a felony charge; put limits on the use of solitary confinement; and allow compassionate release of people who are terminally ill.
We must work together to end one of the worst travesties of our time – mass incarceration, as well to offer economic opportunities in communities hardest hit by poverty, drugs and hopelessness. I look forward to our continued communication to restore justice for all in Massachusetts.
Mass incarceration is inhumane, ineffective and fiscally irresponsible. I strongly support proven methods to reform the Massachusetts system of justice. I recognize that a lack of economic opportunity leaves many people with few options for legal employment. I support investing in our most vulnerable communities through business development, providing job skill training classes, and by other programs that a community identifies to generate change.
As a Unitarian Universalist, my denomination will continue to advocate for these needed changes. I look forward to our continued communication and partnering to end mass incarceration together and restore justice in Massachusetts.