Category Archives: Contact legislators

It’s time for justice reform in Mass.

A poll out today from the policy group Mass INC is encouraging with 2-1 support for ending the long Mandatory Minimum sentences on drug convictions and for other reforms on CORI reform, felony theft threshold, reducing or ending fines and fees on ex-prisoners

WHEN IT COMES TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM, VOTERS WANT MORE — At least according to a new poll out this morning from MassINC Polling Group, which finds a bipartisan support for getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences and pursuing second chance reforms by a 2-1 margin.

Some 53 percent of voters believe incarceration currently does more harm than good – potentially opening the door for more aggressive reforms than are in the current criminal justice reform bill rolled out by Gov. Charlie Baker in February and backed by state House Speaker Robert DeLeo. State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who supports the proposal, has also stated he wants to go further than Baker’s bill to delve into sentencing policy and bail practices – things this poll indicates the public has more of an appetite to pursue.

The poll also reveals bipartisan interest in reform, which could provide cover for both chambers in the legislature to pursue more progressive policies, like getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences and an emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention of future crimes – two things specifically favored on both sides of the aisle. “You see an appetite for changing things around, for trying something new and changing the realities of the criminal justice system of Massachusetts,” MassINC Polling Group President Steve Koczela told POLITICO. – Check out the toplines. Click on “Check out the toplines” for details of the  question and responses in the poll.

It’s important to organize meetings, calls, and letters to both your state representatives and senators that you support criminal justice reform and specifically name what that includes such as Ending Mandatory Minimum’s drug convictions and returning sentences to Judges, CORI Reform including reducing the number of years employers can see CORI’s to 7 years on felonies and 3 years on misdemeanors, reducing ending fines and fees like the $65 a month fee those on probation must pay, raising the threshold for what’s a felony from the 30 year old $250 level up to $1500, Diversion to Treatment, Juvenile Expungement and Raising the Age of Juvenile Court coverage.

–Thanks to Lew Finfer and Jobs not Jails for this update. Please submit YOUR post for this blog to emit.susan@gmail.com.

Felony thresholds out of committee

The Massachusetts Judiciary Committee released a bill favorably to increase the thresholds set 30+ years ago from $250 to $1500 to determine what constitutes a larceny felony. This is good news.

There are a few minor provisions that need tweaking, such as designating welfare fraud of $100 a felony. However, the bill is good news. Please connect with your state representative and senator [find them here] to endorse it when to comes out of Ways and Means.

Here’s a link to an article by the respected PEW foundation that shows raising the felony threshold does not increase crime. Raising the felony threshold  will make certain crimes a misdemeanor, which gives the perpetrators a second chance and doesn’t mark them a felon.

Justice and corrections systems reforms require a series of bills passed over a number of years. This is an important bill to prevent people from entering the corrections system, and have shorter sentences if they do.

Action you can take to influence the Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committee is now evaluating bills to reform the Commonwealth’s judicial and correctional systems. YOU CAN INFLUENCE this process in several ways.

1. Pledge to attend the June 9 hearing, 1 pm at the Gardner Auditorium of the Statehouse to show support for reform. Sign up here or show up at 12:45 pm at the Statehouse.

2. Print out multiple copies of this action letter. Invite others to sign individual letters. Mail them to EMIT, C/o Susan Tordella, 5 Hedgeway St. Ayer, MA 01432. EMIT will deliver them in person to the Judiciary Committee members. Or deliver the letters in person to Judiciary Committee members.

3.Call or email members of the Judiciary Committee and encourage other voters to do the same,  to encourage legislators to support criminal justice reform, especially the bills in the action letter

Here are the Judiciary Committee members, positions and contact information.

The legislators with NONE beside their names really need to hear that we support reform. 

Key (bills Sponsored -SP or Co-sponsored):
MM:    End Mandatory Minimums
PT:      Pre-Trial and Bail Reform
Just:   Justice Reinvestment Act
Care:   Caretaker Act
Exp:    Expungement
RJ:      Restorative Justice
Extra:  Extraordinary Medical Release

William Brownsberger, D-Belmont – Chair    617-722-1280  William.brownsberger@masenate.gov
MM, Just, Exp, RJ,
Sen. John Keenen, D-Quincy – Vice Chair NONE   617-722-1494     john.keenan@masenate.gov
Sonia Chang Diaz, D-Boston           617-722-1673     sonia.change-diaz@masenate.gov
PT, MM, Just -SP
Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville         617-722-1578     patricia.jehlen@masenate.gov
PT, MM, Care-SP, Exp, RJ, Extra -SP
Cynthia Creem, D-Newton               617-722-1639     cynthia.creem@masenate.gov
MM- SP, Just
Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham             NONE   617-722-1555     richard.ross@masenate.gov
Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford- Chair   NONE     617-722-2396     john.fernandes@mahouse.gov
Claire Cronin, D-Easton – Vice Chair                       617-722-2396     claire.cronin@mahouse.gov
PT, MM, Just, RJ Extra
Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut    NONE       617-722-2380     colleen.garry@mahouse.gov
Rep. John Velis, D-Westfield     NONE       617-722-2582     john.vellis@mahouse.gov
Michael Day, D-Winchester                        617-722-2582     michael.day@mahouse.gov
MM, RJ
Rep. Paul Tucker, D-Salem          NONE          617-722-2400     paul.tucker@mahouse.gov
Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover    NONE          617-722-2450     james.lyons@mahouse.gov
Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin                     617-722-2020     jeffrey.roy@mahouse.gov
Pre-Trial, MM, RJ
Evandro Carvalho, D-Dorchester      617-722-2460     evandro.carvalho@mahouse.gov
MM, Just
Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield         617-722-2080     carlos.gonzalez@mahouse.gov
PT, MM, Just, Care
Sheila Harrington, R-Groton              617-722-2305     shiela.harrington@mahouse.gov
PT

Ferguson and Staten Island are the tip of the iceberg

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 [emit.susan@gmail.com] 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.

Pretrial Reform FactSheet(2)       Mandatory Minimums FactSheet2

Date ___________________________

Massachusetts State House   Room

24 Beacon Street   Boston, MA 02133

The Honorable_______________________________,

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Sincerely,

Signature_____________________________________

Printed name_________________________________

Address______________________________________

Town_________________________________________

Join us Nov. 15 in Northboro with Sen. Jamie Eldridge

Ending Mass Incarceration, part of "The New Jim Crow" in Massachusetts, is part of criminal justice reform, led by State Sen. Stan Rosenburg, D Amherst. We must work together in Mass. to reform our criminal justice system and end the systematic incarceration of black, brown, poor, mentally ill and addicted people.

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, is a progressive senator who constantly advocates for the underprivileged, to protect the environment and for civil liberty.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and Rebecca Miller, aide to Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, will preview upcoming legislation for the 2015 legislative session and give inside information on how to connect with and influence our state legislators.

The meeting gets rolling at 10:45 am with registration and coffee. The program starts promptly at 11 am and ends at 1 pm. Light refreshments served. Free. Handicapped accessible. Plenty of parking. If you need a lift from public transit – Green Line to MetroWest Transit, please contact susan . tordella at g mail . com.

Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/end-mass-incarceration-training-tickets-13678989225

Bring friends who are outraged by the injustice of mass incarceration. Please share this notice with your networks.

We are building an ecumenical

statewide grassroots network to influence state legislators to pass a series of bills to return justice for all to Massachusetts, from revising pre-trial services to ending mandatory minimum sentencing.

Join a chorus of statewide advocacy groups working on this issue. We are stronger with many voices singing together loudly in many harmonies.

Give young offenders a break- show your support

The Redeem Act is being proposed in the U.S. Senate to wipe clean the records of non-violent juvenile delinquents. 
 
Here is the link for folks to sign their name: http://act.corybooker.com/page/s/criminal-justice-reform?source=em140708