After a decade of activism, we have a window of opportunity for broad reform of the Massachusetts justice and corrections systems.Members of the Massachusetts Senate will be voting on a package of comprehensive reforms this fall. We need to urge House members to take similar action. The House Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Brockton, is now meeting with every House member to learn what reform they will support.
The goal is for you to join a statewide movement to call your state representative (not senator) within the next week, so your rep will relay to Rep. Cronin, that they support a bold and comprehensive package of judicial and corrections systems reforms.
HERE is what we are asking you to do by Sept. 22.
If needed, identify your state representative at www.openstates.org, find their phone and e-mail. Call and ask to speak with your state rep. If s/he is not available, speak with their aide. Here is the message.
Hello my name is … I am a constituent of Rep. … I have been aware for a long time of the need to reform our justice and corrections systems. I know there is discussion about bills to make badly needed changes in the systems.
I have heard that the Co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, Clare Cronin, is meeting with each member of the House to discuss areas of reform they will to support and what to include in a comprehensive package. In the discussions between Rep.… and Rep. Cronin, please urge her to be ambitious, to think big, and to develop a comprehensive House package, equal to the Senate version.
You may have a specific issue of concern, such as ending mandatory minimum sentences, reducing or eliminating bail, solitary confinement, or fees or fines. Mention that issue in one sentence. The main reason for the call is to ask your state rep to urge Rep. Cronin to think big, and assure her that House members will support broad reforms this fall.
- The ask: Can I count on you to deliver a message of support to Rep. Cronin?
- Next, send an email to your state rep to reinforce the message.
- Go HERE to let the organizers, know you have connected with your state representative.
The Rev. Bill Gardiner, Susan Tordella and Laura Wagner, Unitarian Universalist Association; The Rev. Jon Tetherly, The Rev. George Oliver, Kathryn Byers, United Church of Christ.
For information, visit these resources:
Last month, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that judges must take into account a defendant’s financial resources when setting bail. The original intent of bail was to be sure a defendant returned to court, but in today’s environment, where approximately 97 percent of criminal cases are settled with plea bargain agreements, the setting of bail that people cannot pay, serves to guarantee more convictions.
When one is incarcerated pretrial, one is more likely to accept a plea, and a criminal conviction, in order to go home.
It is unclear what the impact will be for this ruling. The practice of bail will continue, and the court can use it when their is a flight risk. Dangerousness hearings are also part of Massachusetts law, so that defendants deemed a danger to the public can be retained pretrial. At this time the Mass Bail Fund is meeting with others to determine what kind of monitoring can be done to determine compliance with the new ruling.
See more here about the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling.
–Submitted by Louellyn Lambros of Scituate, an EMIT CORE member.