Recent events in which black men have died at the hands of police are examples of how the US justice system is slanted against people who are black, Latino, poor, addicted to substances and mentally ill.
In Massachusetts, EMIT — End Mass Incarceration Together [a statewide grassroots advocacy group led by Unitarians and UU Mass Action Network] — partners with voters and state legislators to pass a series of bills in the next few years to ensure justice for all. We advocate legislative action, information, and coalition building to change Massachusetts state laws, policies, systems of justice and incarceration, probation and parole.
Such change is achieved one bill at a time, working in a statewide grassroots network of voters, legislators, communities, churches, non-profits and advocacy groups. We are working on generating support for two bills in the 2015 session: ending mandatory minimum sentencing and reform of pre-trial practices.
We need local leaders willing to take some small steps by Jan. 31.
1. Print out the letter below and invite people to sign individual letters to their state senator and representative. [Determine reps/senators here.]
2. Collect the letters and deliver them to your state representative and state senator BY JAN. 30. Make an appointment with him/her in your district. You do not need to go to Beacon Hill. A personal visit to deliver the signed stack of letters has a BIG impact on your legislator. Ask other voters to attend the meeting.
3. Let EMIT know [firstname.lastname@example.org] that you have taken this action. If you cannot deliver the letters, send them to 5 Hedgeway St., Ayer, MA 01432.
Here are fact sheets on the two bills.
Massachusetts State House Room
24 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02133
I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor two bills that are priority legislation for the Harm Reduction & Drug Law Reform Caucus. As you know, the Caucus is a coalition of more than 65 legislators, working to end mass incarceration through policy changes, education and coalition building.
The Caucus is committed to reforming the Commonwealth’s justice system, which unjustly impacts and incarcerates people who are black, Latino, poor, uneducated, addicted to substances, and mentally ill. The Caucus is co-chaired by Representative Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland) and Senator Jamie Eldridge, (D-Acton). If you are already a caucus member, thank you.
Your help is needed to join the work of the Caucus and continue the momentum to end the injustice of mass incarceration in Massachusetts. We urge you to co-sponsor the two bills by Jan. 15, so your names will be printed on the cover of the bills, along with many fellow legislators.
- Removal of Mandatory Minimum sentencing – 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 – sponsored by Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Rep. Sannicandro, 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 a guilty finding.
Fact sheets on these issues are available at www.endmassincarcerationtogether.wordpress.com or by contacting Rebecca Miller, legislative aide to Rep. Sannicandro, 617-722-2013 and Rebecca.Miller@mahouse.gov.
Thank you in advance for supporting justice reform in 2015 in Massachusetts.