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EMIT’s goal is to inform voters so they feel confident and knowledgeable [enough] to meet FACE TO FACE with their state representative and senator in Massachusetts. EMIT supporters are also invited to join in an informal “walk-around” to visit legislators and their aides to inform them about criminal justice reform bills pending at the statehouse.
This post below is from Colleen Kirby of Arlington who joined a Feb. 25 “walk-around” [“lobbyist” has such negative connotations] to inform our legislators and staffers to implement reform. You can do it, too! The next workaround is Wednesday, March 18, 10:30 am to 2:30 pm [come for any part of it], meet in Sen. Eldridge’s office, Room 314. RSVP to emit . susan at g mail to get a cell phone connection.
I had a great time spending the day lobbying legislators to support Bail Reform and ending Mandatory Minimum sentencing for drug crimes. I do not have a deep knowledge of the issues but Susan convinced me I could still be a help. Susan had three prepared handouts with all the information needed that to start a conversation and leave with the legislator so they would know EMIT, and where to go for more information.
Because EMIT had already given a copy of “The New Jim Crow” By Michelle Alexander to all legislators, there was another point of reference to ask them about. Many had read it, or had the book close at hand in their “to read” pile.
Many of the aides and state representatives we talked to were conversant on these bills or had an interest in the subject or other bills such as the Jobs not Jails omnibus bill and the Restorative Justice bill.
Having two people or three people go around together to speak meant that if you ever felt like a deer in headlights, you could just go quiet and the other person would fill in the gaps. I was surprised that there was probably only one question we weren’t able to answer right away.
I highly recommend going and speaking with the Mass. Statehouse aides and representatives. These bills already have a lot of support and they are interested in learning about them, especially if you have something to leave them with, such as a synopsis of the bill or some data about other states that have implemented them and their success.
–Colleen Kirby (first time lobbyist to legislators at the Statehouse)
THANKS TO YOU, regular voters who care, EMIT and UU Mass Action Network, delivered 700-plus
letters to state lawmakers in January 2015 asking them to cosponsor criminal justice reform, especially to end mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug offenses and to reform pre-trial practices — what happens when someone gets arrested, and on what basis do we decide to incarcerate them, without being found guilty.
Reaching out to state lawmakers, especially representatives in face-to-face meetings, is one of the most effective ways to make our voice heard in future laws. This is the goal of EMIT.
We especially need voters to visit with state representatives in Springfield, New Bedford and Fall River, Plymouth-Cape Cod-The Islands, and Cape Ann/The North Shore. Can you join us? Please email emit.susan at g mail dot com. Our strategy is simple and issues can easily be understood and communicated to state legislators.
Thanks to the leadership of the State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the 40 members of the State Senate may be on board with criminal justice reform this legislative session. In 2015, we must focus on the 160 state representatives, and meet with them personally, in their home districts, with constituents like you and a few friends. You can meet at the public library or town hall for 30 minutes and share your urgency to end mass incarceration now.
EMIT is also co-sponsoring events to inform to reform so people feel more knowledgeable when meeting with state representatives.
Save March 28 in Amherst, 10 am to 2 pm at the UCC Church, 165 Main St. Featured speakers are Sen. Stan Rosenberg, who will give more details on justice reinvestment and State Sen. Jamie Eldridge who will describe some pending criminal justice reform bills. Formerly incarcerated people will share their stories, and participants will have time to network. Sponsored by EMIT and Social Justice Committee of Amherst UCC.
Save March 12 in New Bedford and April 16 in Springfield for additional events. More info to come.
In Arlington, on Saturday, March 14, 1-4:30 pm, attend a Road Map towards Justice: How to End Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts, at First Parish Unitarian Universalist 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.
Come learn about the bills related to mass incarceration and prison reform that might become law in the next two years, and how you can help make our criminal justice system more fair and effective. You will hear from experts, receive fact sheets, and have time to connect with others and digest what you are learning. Speakers include Rep. Dave Rogers, Rep. Sean Garballey, Barbara Dougan, Andrea James, Jon Tetherly, and EPOCA members. Refreshments served too!
RSVPs to firstname.lastname@example.org are appreciated but not required.
This interactive workshop is organized by the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Arlington and co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together, EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP,