Monthly Archives: February 2015

You too, can influence your legislator — a post from a new lobbyist

EMIT’s goal is to inform voters so they feel confident and knowledgeable [enough] to meet FACE TO FACE with their state representative and senator in Massachusetts. EMIT supporters are also invited to join in an informal “walk-around” to visit legislators and their aides to inform them about criminal justice reform bills pending at the statehouse.

This post below is from Colleen Kirby of Arlington who joined a Feb. 25 “walk-around” [“lobbyist” has such negative connotations] to inform our legislators and staffers to implement reform. You can do it, too! The next workaround is Wednesday, March 18, 10:30 am to 2:30 pm [come for any part of it], meet in Sen. Eldridge’s office, Room 314. RSVP to emit . susan at g mail to get a cell phone connection.

I had a great time spending the day lobbying legislators to support Bail Reform and ending Mandatory Minimum sentencing for drug crimes. I do not have a deep knowledge of the issues but Susan convinced me I could still be a help.  Susan had three prepared handouts with all the information needed that to start a conversation and leave with the legislator so they would know EMIT, and where to go for more information. 

Because EMIT had already given a copy of “The New Jim Crow” By Michelle Alexander  to all legislators, there was another point of reference to ask them about.  Many had read it, or had the book close at hand in their “to read” pile. 

Many of the aides and state representatives we talked to were conversant on these bills or had an interest in the subject or other bills such as the Jobs not Jails omnibus bill and the Restorative Justice bill. 

Having two people or three people go around together to speak meant that if you ever felt like a deer in headlights, you could just go quiet and the other person would fill in the gaps.  I was surprised that there was probably only one question we weren’t able to answer right away.

I highly recommend going and speaking with the Mass. Statehouse aides and representatives.  These bills already have a lot of support and they are interested in learning about them, especially if you have something to leave them with, such as a synopsis of the bill or some data about other states that have implemented them and their success. 

–Colleen Kirby (first time lobbyist to legislators at the Statehouse)

FOUR MA Events on Inform to Reform: how to end mass Incarceration together

Unequal Justice: The Consequences of Race and Class in Our Criminal Justice SystemSat, February 28, 7pm – 9pm, Arlington Town Hall, 730 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476,

Panelists: Peniel Joseph, civil rights historian, activist Don Perry, parole reform activist, and Arlington’s Acting Police Chief
Moderated by David Whitford. For more information, contact Vision 2020 Diversity Task Group member Miriam Stein at or 781-648-0255.
A Road Map Towards Justice: How to End Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts
Saturday, March 14 First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Center
Gather at 1:00 p.m. for social time, program from 1:15-4:30 p.m. Come learn about the bills related to mass incarceration and prison reform that might become law in the next two years. We will provide fact sheets, opportunities to ask questions and connect with others, and information about how you can help make our criminal justice system more fair and effective.
Speakers include Rep. Dave Rogers on parole reform, Rep. Sean Garballey on restorative justice, Matt Hartman (Sen. Ken Donnelly’s legal counsel) on pretrial and bail reform, EPOCA members on the Jobs Not Jails omnibus bill, Barbara Dougan on mandatory minimums, Andrea James on alternative sentencing for children’s primary caretakers, and Jon Tetherly on an innocence commission.
RSVPs to are appreciated but not required. Parking is in municipal lots on the other side of Mass. Ave. Buses #77, #79, and others stop nearby. Refreshments provided. Organized by the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Arlington.
Co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together (a UU Mass Action working group), EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP.
Inform To Reform: A forum on how you can end mass incarceration in Massachusetts
Saturday, March 28, 165 Main St., Amherst, Mass., 10 am to 2 pm.
Featured Speaker: State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

Join activists and legislators to share information on criminal justice reform bills pending at the Statehouse to end one of the worst injustices of our time. Hear from two formerly incarcerated people how they have been pummeled by the biased criminal justice   system, before, during and after incarceration.

Take away an action plan as a vital link in a statewide grassroots movement to end mass incarceration.       Free admission and refreshments. Registration requested but not required:   Contact, 978-772-3930. Co-sponsored by EMIT and Peacebuilders and Anti-Racism Ministry Team of First Congregational Church UCC of Amherst,

Free Presentation and Q and A with Jack Cole
Co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 7-8 p.m. Hosted by Occupy Winchester at the Winchester Unitarian Society, 478 Main Street, Winchester, MA

Jack Cole knows about the “war on drugs” from several perspectives. He retired as a Detective Lieutenant after a 26-year career with the New Jersey State Police – 14 years in narcotics, mostly as an undercover officer. His investigations spanned cases from street drug users to international “billion-dollar” drug trafficking organizations.

“This is Not a War on Drugs – it’s a War on People.” Jack Cole

Sen. Karen Spilka: Why a New Women’s Jail?

Four members of EMIT- End Mass Incarceration Together, a task force of UU Mass Action Network,

Sen KAren Spilka is a champion of the underserved.

State Senator Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

met with Sen. Spilka’s aide, Aaron Carty Legislative Counsel [], to learn more about why Sen. Spilka proposed An act establishing an eastern Massachusetts women’s county corrections facility.

“It is not the intention to build a new jail, but to open the conversation,” said Carty. “She is not married to anything. She is listening to what others think,” he added.

Sen. Spilka has a history of diverting people from the criminal justice system, including efforts in juvenile justice reform. In the 2013-2014 legislative session, Sen. Spilka sponsored legislation that raised the juvenile age minimum from 17 to 18 and legislation that prohibited the shackling of pregnant women in Massachusetts jails, according to Carty.

Women detainees have special needs and 40 percent of the people at Framingham MCI are there on a pre-trial basis, people who are often marginalized. The bill is intended to be a conversation starter to solve the problem, Carty explained. “She is totally open to other solutions,” he said.

Bill Gardner, an EMIT member from Arlington, proposed a community meeting in her district of Framingham, in which the senator could meet with community members and activists to explain her position and motivation for introducing the bill.

Her main goal behind the bill is how to best serve pre-trial detainees at Framingham MCI and jails across the state. Senator Spilka plans to address the intent of the bill when it comes before a committee hearing later this legislative session. In addition, the public is encouraged to express concerns and comments by testifying or submitting written testimony at all committee hearings.

Next steps toward reforming the Mass. justice system

THANKS TO YOU, regular voters who care, EMIT and UU Mass Action Network, delivered 700-plus

Massachusetts statehouse and state legislators have passed dozens of bills to fill our prisons and  jails. These bills often discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, income, social class, education, mental health and drug and substance addiction and abuse

The Statehouse is where we need to encourage lawmakers to pass a series of bills over a number of years to untangle the injustice of mass incarceration in Massachusetts.

letters to state lawmakers in January 2015 asking them to cosponsor criminal justice reform, especially to end mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug offenses and to reform pre-trial practices — what happens when someone gets arrested, and on what basis do we decide to incarcerate them, without being found guilty.

Reaching out to state lawmakers, especially representatives in face-to-face meetings, is one of the most effective ways to make our voice heard in future laws. This is the goal of EMIT.

We especially need voters to visit with state representatives in Springfield, New Bedford and Fall River, Plymouth-Cape Cod-The Islands, and Cape Ann/The North Shore. Can you join us? Please email emit.susan at g mail dot com. Our strategy is simple and issues can easily be understood and communicated to state legislators.

Thanks to the leadership of the State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the 40 members of the State Senate may be on board with criminal justice reform this legislative session. In 2015, we must focus on the 160 state representatives, and meet with them personally, in their home districts, with constituents like you and a few friends. You can meet at the public library or town hall for 30 minutes and share your urgency to end mass incarceration now.

EMIT is also co-sponsoring events to inform to reform so people feel more knowledgeable when meeting with state representatives.

Save March 28 in Amherst, 10 am to 2 pm at the UCC Church, 165 Main St. Featured speakers are Sen. Stan Rosenberg, who will give more details on justice reinvestment and State Sen. Jamie Eldridge who will describe some pending criminal justice reform bills. Formerly incarcerated people will share their stories, and participants will have time to network. Sponsored by EMIT and Social Justice Committee of Amherst UCC.

Save March 12 in New Bedford and April 16 in Springfield for additional events. More info to come.

In Arlington, on Saturday, March 14, 1-4:30 pm, attend a Road Map towards Justice: How to End Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts, at First Parish Unitarian Universalist 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.

Come learn about the bills related to mass incarceration and prison reform that might become law in the next two years, and how you can help make our criminal justice system more fair and effective.  You will hear from experts, receive fact sheets, and have time to connect with others and digest what you are learning.  Speakers include Rep. Dave Rogers, Rep. Sean Garballey, Barbara Dougan, Andrea James, Jon Tetherly, and EPOCA members.  Refreshments served too!

RSVPs to are appreciated but not required.

This interactive workshop is organized by the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Arlington and co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together, EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP,