National activists are mirroring reform in Massachusetts and other to prevent people from entering the system, humane treatment during incarceration, shorter sentences, and better preparation for re-entry to reduce recidivism.
An EMIT activist participated in a national call on Monday, which included representatives from the Koch brothers, who favor justice/corrections systems reform. Her are highlights from her report.
On the call, several groups such as FAMM – Friends Against Mandatory Minimums,
#CUT 50, and the Koch Group were advocating to keep up the pressure to pass the bills through Congress.
They plan to use many of the same methods that we used at the Statehouse here, such as briefings, letter writing, op-ed pieces and call ins to persuade passage.
Some activists on the call members had met privately with legislators directly. Some parts of the two bills will reform federal sentences, change mandatory minimums,
expand programs and expand the elderly release program which allows those over age 60 who have served two-thirds of their sentence to ask to be released due to their age and or health.
When and if many of these reforms become law at the federal level, it will be much easier for us to ask for similar changes at the state level.
The representatives of the activist groups felt that President Trump supports the bills. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner has been working to get the bill passed. I agree with Kushner’s statement that ” The single biggest thing we want to do is really define what the purpose of a prison is. Is the purpose to punish , is the purpose to warehouse, or is the purpose to rehabilitate?”
We are working here in Massachusetts to insure that our corrections system does rehabilitate while also reducing the prison population and saving tax dollars. I
believe that these are worthy goals that both Democrats and Republicans can get behind.
The only ones who seem to not want passage according to those on the call are the private prison lobby and law enforcement , They both have a vested interest in keeping prisons full as a means of job security.
I feel the tax paying public deserves better. I feel that we can hold prisons accountable , rehabilitate and save money without damaging public safety. To do this, we all will not have to work harder, instead we all have to work smarter.
Here is a copy of the information on the sentencing reform and corrections bill that passed the House. Now a companion bill S.1917 Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act has come through the Senate. It is sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassly (R) and Richard Durbin (D) as well as Lindsey Graham (R) and Cory Booker (D).