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:
The governor of Louisiana just signed 10 bills to overhaul their justice and corrections systems. Massachusetts sadly lags behind reform. We in Massachusetts must copy Louisiana, where grassroots activism, testifying at the statehouse and in the media, and direct, face-to-face contact with their elected officials fueled success.
CONTACT ME, emit [dot] susan [at] g mail if you live in Massachusetts and want EMIT to to assist you to take the most effective action: making a face-to-face visit with your state rep, near where you live. Find your state rep here. It’s your state rep’s JOB to listen to your concerns and requests.
We have held small group dialogues of constituents with with dozens of lawmakers from across the state, including Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, speaker of the House of Representatives.
To enact comprehensive reform similar to Louisiana, a series of bills is required. The sponsors of each bill insure they have support before asking Speaker DeLeo to bring a bill forward for a vote of the whole body.
We must capture the attention of every state representative this session, which runs from January 2017-July 2018. Take action today and contact EMIT — emit [dot] susan [at] g mail. We have a team of volunteers standing by to set up appointments and attend them with you and a small group of other registered voters from your district.
The speaker in the Sept. 23 event below is Rev. Dr. Harold Dean “Doc” Trulear is formerly incarcerated. His church community rallied around him to welcome him home after incarceration. He will inspire you to reach out to others returning home to avoid the high rate of re-offense, and the many barriers to successful re-entry after prison.
Prison Ministry: Forming Networks for Connection, Growth and Healing
at the First Parish Church, Unitarian Universalist
50 School Street, Bridgewater, MA
Friday, September 23, 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Free and open to all. Lunch included.
Let’s learn together:
- To open our hearts to the incarcerated and to their families, friends and all who are working with them
- To embrace and provide understanding to the incarcerated and members of communities working with them, whether they be congregational, academic, political or institutional
- To collaborate and learn to build networks with others supporting prisoners
- To form networks and support systems across all boundaries
First Parish is honored to host this workshop, led by Rev. Dr. Harold Dean “Doc” Trulear, in collaboration with Messiah Baptist Church of Brockton. Dr. Trulear is Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University and Director of the Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prisoner Reentry Project of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation.
Go to the workshop registration form: http://tinyurl.com/hbjyxrx
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and affiliated congregation or organization.
For more information, contact:
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
RJ: Restorative Justice
Extra: Extraordinary Medical Release
William Brownsberger, D-Belmont – Chair 617-722-1280 William.email@example.com
MM, Just, Exp, RJ,
Sen. John Keenen, D-Quincy – Vice Chair NONE 617-722-1494 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Chang Diaz, D-Boston 617-722-1673 email@example.com
PT, MM, Just -SP
Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville 617-722-1578 firstname.lastname@example.org
PT, MM, Care-SP, Exp, RJ, Extra -SP
Cynthia Creem, D-Newton 617-722-1639 email@example.com
MM- SP, Just
Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham NONE 617-722-1555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford- Chair NONE 617-722-2396 email@example.com
Claire Cronin, D-Easton – Vice Chair 617-722-2396 firstname.lastname@example.org
PT, MM, Just, RJ Extra
Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut NONE 617-722-2380 email@example.com
Rep. John Velis, D-Westfield NONE 617-722-2582 firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Day, D-Winchester 617-722-2582 email@example.com
Rep. Paul Tucker, D-Salem NONE 617-722-2400 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover NONE 617-722-2450 email@example.com
Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin 617-722-2020 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-Trial, MM, RJ
Evandro Carvalho, D-Dorchester 617-722-2460 email@example.com
Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield 617-722-2080 firstname.lastname@example.org
PT, MM, Just, Care
Sheila Harrington, R-Groton 617-722-2305 email@example.com
[Church or personal address]
Here is a letter to print out and distribute to your circle of influence to send to state legislators by Jan. 15, 2015.
To identify your state lawmakers and their room numbers at the Statehouse, go to: https://malegislature.gov/people/search
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 01233
The Honorable ____________________________
I am writing to express my support of bills to end mass incarceration in the 2015-16 legislative term and invite you to co-sponsor one or all of them. The bills are as follows.
- End Mandatory Minimums – 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.
- Reform pre-trial and bail practices – Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Rep. Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland), 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 being found guilty of a crime.
- End collateral sanctions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles – Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain) and Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). Remove the requirement that a person convicted of a drug offense loses driving privileges for up to five years and pay $500 or more to reinstate.
- Implement restorative justice programs – Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Rep. Sean Garbally (D-Arlington) to provide an opportunity to repair the harm caused by the event, as opposed to handing down a punishment.
- Expungement – Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), to expunge a criminal record in which the defendant was mistakenly brought into the criminal justice system.
The five bills above are endorsed by the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus, led by Rep. Sannicandro and Sen. Eldridge, which I hope you will join, if you haven’t yet. I encourage you to sign on as a co-sponsor of one or all of these bills before Jan. 15, 2015. As you know, adding your name to the front page of a bill increases the likelihood that the legislation will pass.
I also support three additional bills that will: redefine the criteria of a felony charge; put limits on the use of solitary confinement; and allow compassionate release of people who are terminally ill.
We must work together to end one of the worst travesties of our time – mass incarceration, as well to offer economic opportunities in communities hardest hit by poverty, drugs and hopelessness. I look forward to our continued communication to restore justice for all in Massachusetts.
Mass incarceration is inhumane, ineffective and fiscally irresponsible. I strongly support proven methods to reform the Massachusetts system of justice. I recognize that a lack of economic opportunity leaves many people with few options for legal employment. I support investing in our most vulnerable communities through business development, providing job skill training classes, and by other programs that a community identifies to generate change.
As a Unitarian Universalist, my denomination will continue to advocate for these needed changes. I look forward to our continued communication and partnering to end mass incarceration together and restore justice in Massachusetts.