Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge [D-Acton] explains how forming a relationship and providing new information from experts can influence a legislator’s position on an issue. The most effective way to end mass incarceration is to meet with your state representative and senator and let them know you support criminal justice reform. Ideally, go with other voters from your district. Reforming our state criminal justice system will be accomplished by enacting a series of bills, policies and practices over three to five years.

We are seeking constituents to adopt one state senator and/or one state representative and keep in touch with that legislator. The 8-minute video below gives an abbreviated example of how to connect with a legislator, described below.

The goals Establish a long-term relationship with one state rep or senator, and invite other constituents to visit, provide information, and attend events. Find out your legislators’ positions on the pending bills and five policy areas below. Determine if your legislators need more information to consider other viewpoints from experts, personal stories and examples of how other jurisdictions handle similar problems. Ideally, you and your adopted lawmaker will share information on upcoming hearings and votes on Beacon Hill. Record your findings on the Google Doc so that we can track all 40 senators and 160 representatives. Determine your lawmakers’ positions on five key policy areas

  1. End mandatory minimum sentencing related to drugs;
  2. Treat drug and alcohol addiction as health problems not as crimes;
  3. Endorse pre-trial practices and procedures to avoid incarceration while awaiting trial;
  4. Halt construction of new county jails and state prisons; and
  5. Legalize marijuana and implement harm reduction of other drugs.

Report your visit on the shared Google Doc. Your efforts and information are part of a strategic statewide campaign. We are tracking each legislator to determine what new information from experts might influence their position. Determine your state legislators at this quick easy website:http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

Encourage legislators to support: these proposed Massachusetts bills: S. 1133, H. 1486,  an act relative to the appropriate use of solitary confinement, Senators Eldridge, Malia, Jehlen, Byron, Rushing, Rep. Rogers. H.1646, S.667, S.634, are acts to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, Rep. Swan, Sen. Creem, Sen. Brownsberger. H.1194,  an act to improve public safety by facilitating access to addiction services,   Rep. Balser. H.1641,  an act relative to telephone service for incarcerated people, Rep. Swan. H. 3099, an act relative to motor vehicle license suspension, Rep. Malia and 24 others.  

Encourage legislators to oppose: H.1434,  an act relative to the establishment of a women’s pretrial facility in Middlesex County, Rep. Kahn For talking points, see the second page of the “Grassroots” handout. The “Pretrial” handout explains how changing policies and practices in Mass. Trial Courts will  reduce incarceration rates and the rate of re-offense. According to Mass INC, if Massachusetts reduces recidivism by 5 percent, it will save the state $150 million a year. The state’s prisons and jails will no longer be overcrowded. Pretrial reform has been enacted in many other states.

See this national resources, the Pretrial Institute.  Speakers available to come to your statehouse. Legislator_Info_Sheet Grassroots_legislative liaison guidelines The Pretrial_handout mandatory minimums 1 Mandatory Minimums 2

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