We need YOUR HELP to make this bill as strong as possible. Here are three things you can do:
(1) Email your state rep the attached list of requested votes. The list includes “YES” votes on amendments that would help make our justice system more fair and effective, and critically important “NO” votes. The list itself is simple, to make it easy for state reps to use. Click here for the list: H 4011 Requested Votes
Check whether your state rep sponsored any of the positive amendments. If so, thank them for that. (You can look up your state rep at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator .)
Use a subject line like “Vote requests for H.4011 & amendments.” The body of the email can be short and sweet:
Dear Representative XXX,
I am excited by the current opportunity for comprehensive criminal justice reform in Massachusetts. [Thank you especially for your leadership on YYY.]
I hope you will help make our justice system more fair and effective by voting on amendments to H.4011 as requested in the attached document.
Most importantly, I hope H.4011 will pass with a resounding majority.
(2) Attend any part of the House debate. The House will likely start to debate this bill at around 1 p.m on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Nov. 13-15).
Thank you for anything you can do!
Activists [like YOU] have created the momentum for this exciting opportunity for several years. PLEASE email your rep the list of amendments RIGHT NOW.
For all tireless justice and corrections systems advocates, H 4011, An Act to Reform Criminal Justice, is poised to be debated by the Mass. House of Representatives Nov. 12, 13, 14. Here are the latest amendments EMIT is advocating for. You can copy and paste and email to your state rep. Find your state rep here.
NOW IS THE TIME to email your state rep! Don’t wait. We expect legislators to finalize it by Nov. 17. Even if you’ve previously contacted your rep, the amendments and sponsors are NEW. Encourage him/her to co-sponsor & support them.
• Felony larceny threshold – Rep. Linsky: Taise the level of what constitutes a felony to $1,500 — the level it would almost be if the threshold had kept up with inflation;
• Fines and Fees – Rep. Keefe: Eliminate parole fees, and also public counsel fees for people who are indigent;
• Justice reinvestment — Rep. O’Day: Track the savings generated from reducing the prison population, and reinvest half of it in job training, job placement, and other supports to further reduce unemployment and recidivism;
• Juvenile diversion — Rep. Cahill: Allow statewide pre-arraignment diversion for young people;
• Mandatory minimums #1 – Reps. Carvalho and Keefe: Repeal mandatory minimums for all non-violent drug sentences;
• Mandatory minimums #2 – Reps. Carvalho and Keefe: Repeal the “school zone” mandatory minimum;
• Medical parole #1 — Rep. Connolly: Make people with permanent cognitive incapacitation (think dementia) eligible, in keeping with the Senate bill;
• Medical parole #2 — Rep. Connolly: Lengthen the terminal prognosis from 12 months to 18 months, in keeping with the Senate bill;
• Raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction — Rep. Carvalho and Rep. Khan: Raise the lower age to 12 and the upper age to 19 ;
• Romeo & Juliet — Rep. Lewis: Don’t prosecute teens who are close in age and engage in consensual sexual activity;
• School-based arrests — Rep. Vega: Reduce school-based arrests for adolescent misbehavior like disorderly conduct and disturbing an assembly;
Thanks to the continued actions of voters, Massachusetts state legislators are poised to take a giant step toward comprehensive justice and corrections systems reform by their Nov. 17, 2017 recess.
The state Senate passed an omnibus bill, S. 2185, on Oct. 27 contatining a series of reforms. The House introduced its own version, H 4011, An Act To Reform Criminal Justice this week, and they are expected to debate it Nov. 14 or 15.
The burning actions to take are:
- Call and email your state rep AGAIN ! and remind him/her you support the SENATE version of reform, which covers more ground, and ask them to vote for amendments to strengthen the House version.
Ask like-minded friends to do the same- forward the note below. Identify your state rep & contact info here.
- Storm the Statehouse in person wearing buttons, t-shirts and stickers to broadcast your position.
There are several options. summary of House justice reform bill
- Weds. Nov. 8“Raise the Age Lobby Day”. Join young people of I Have a Future at 3 p.m.at the State House grand staircase. https://www.facebook.com/events/776630415841283/
- Monday, Nov 13, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO)rally for comprehensive criminal justice reform, 1 p.m.at the State House grand staircase.
- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:Nov 14 or 15, attend debates in the House of Representatives to amend and discuss the particulars. Legislators want to see supporters in attendance. The sessions usually start at 11 am or 1 pm. More to come on specifics.
Some aspects of the House bill we would like to see strengthened to be in line with the Senate version:
- Raise the felony threshold to $1500. The House proposed it to be $750. It was last set in the 1980s at $250.
- Allow greater permisiveness for juveniles to avoid incarceration, and to expunge their records.
- Include the Romeo and Juliet clause to decriminalize sex between minors of the same age.
- Provide pre-trial services and eliminate incarcerating people between arrest and trial because of poverty.
Here is an email to share with like-minded friends. THANKS for taking action. See you when we STORM THE STATEHOUSE next week.
STORM THE STATEHOUSE email to forward
Please call your state rep before Nov. 13 to encourage him or her to support H4011, An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform. We are exhilarated to be on the cusp of giant steps of reform with the Omnibus Bill, the culmination of more than five years of baby steps.
Please share this email with like-minded friends anywhere in Massachusetts to encourage them to call and email their state representatives. The state Senate passed a stronger version of the Omnibus Bill on Oct. 27.
Attached is an info sheet with details on the House version of the bill.
Identify and optain contact info for your state rep here: https://openstates.org/
Please call, re-call and email your rep. If you get voice mail, ask for a return call from the rep and/or aide.
Here are talking points.
“My name is _____. I am a constituent of Rep._____. I am calling to urge Rep._____ to support H 4011, An Act to Reform Criminal Justice, during the House debate next week. This Omnibus Bill will bring much needed, long overdue, comprehensive reform to our state’s justice and corrections systems.”
“Activists and legislators have campaigned for reform for more than five years, to reduce the number of incarcerated people, to insure humane treatment while incarcerated, and to reduce recidivism.”
“Please support amendments that would more closely align the Senate and House versions of the bill.”
“Now is the time for reform. Many people believe that the system wastes too much money and destroys too many lives.”
“I will be watching to see how Rep. ____ votes on this bill, and share that information with my circle of friends in town. Thank you.”
Some degree of comprehensive criminal justice reform in Massachusetts is likely in the next few months. The question is how much.
The MA State Senate is expected to vote on its omnibus bill, S.2170, sometime in the next two weeks, perhaps on October 19th. The House omnibus bill will probably be reported out shortly after that, and Speaker DeLeo said he hopes it will be voted on and the two bills sent to a conference committee before Thanksgiving. Depending on how arduous that process is, we might have comprehensive criminal justice reform in Massachusetts by the end of December. Exciting times indeed!
The biggest dangers here are that the Senate bill may be weakened by amendments, the House bill might be a lot weaker than the Senate bill, and the resulting law might not have much impact.
There may also be an opportunity to strengthen the Senate bill, especially its provisions regarding the conditions of solitary confinement.
If the proposed MA Senate omnibus became law, it would improve thousands of people’s lives. Among other things, it would:
+ Reduce fees, fines, and other collateral consequences that trap people in a cycle of poverty and recidivism;
+ Raise the age for being tried as an adult to 19, with a mechanism to consider raising it to 20 or 21 in the future;
+ Promote the use of restorative justice;
+ Repeal mandatory minimums for lower-level drug offenses;
+ Expand eligibility for diversion to drug treatment;
+ Implement the SJC ruling that bail must be affordable;
+ Raise the felony larceny threshold from $250 to $1,500, in keeping with other states;
+ Allow records to be sealed after 3 years for misdemeanors and 7 years for felonies;
+ Restrict the use of solitary confinement and improve its conditions;
+ Provide for medical release of people who are incapacitated or terminally ill; and
+ Decriminalize disturbing a school assembly and sexual activitiy between young people close in age, also know as the Romeo and Juliet provision.
Six things you can do to help make real reform a reality:
(1) Come to a rally for criminal justice reform today — Thursday, October 12 — 11 a.m. on the grand staircase in the State House.
(2) Call or email your state senator and ask them to vote for the criminal justice reform omnibus bill, S.2170, without amendments that would compromise its goals. You could add a request that they support amendments that would further improve the conditions of solitary confinement.
(3) Call or email your state representative and ask them to make sure that Rep. Claire Cronin, the House Judiciary Committee co-chair, knows that they support a strong omnibus bill. You could add that you hope the House bill will include some or all of the priorities listed above. (You can look up your legislators at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator .)
(4) Send letters to the editor to your local paper explaining why you think these issues are important and supporting the Senate omnibus bill.
(5) Write supportive comments (questions are fine too) on Sen. Will Brownsberger’s blog at https://willbrownsberger.com/senate-criminal-justice-reform-package/
(6) Share this information with your friends (by social media, email, or good old-fashioned conversation) and tell them you’re excited by this opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.
On behalf of EMIT leadership team
EMIT — End Mass Incarceration Together
a statewide grassroots all-volunteer working group of Unitarian Universalism Mass Action Network
The only way to reform our state’s judicial and corrections systems is through a number of bills passed over several years.
This requires regular contact with your state legislators.
End Mass Incarceration Together
a statewide grassroots volunteer
working group of Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network