Massachusetts Is Ready for Reform!

Post Date: February 21, 2014

Yesterday, the non-partisan MassINC Polling Group issued a report on how Massachusetts voters feel about criminal justice issues.  FAMM members, you’ll be glad to know that we’re not alone when it comes to opposing mandatory minimums!  A full 85% of those surveyed wanted judges to have at least some discretion when deciding what sentences should be:

  • 41% said judges should always decide the punishment on a case by case basis;
  • 44% favored a combination of judicial discretion and sentencing guidelines;
  • Only 11% said that judges should be required to give mandatory minimum sentences.

These results were about mandatory minimums in general, and not limited to just drug crimes.  When it comes to drug offenses, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed see drug use as a health problem, rather than a crime.  You can read a summary of the results and MassINC’s presentation here.

We hope that this report will reassure legislators that voters do indeed support changing our current mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses.  Speaking of legislators . . .

Judiciary Committee hearing on FAMM’s bills.  We are still waiting for the Judiciary Committee to schedule a public hearing on our bills.  We will let you know as soon as a date is set, so you can make plans to join us at the State House.  FAMM members packed the hearing room in prior sessions, which showed legislators that there is strong support for reform.  We need to do so again this session.

Drug lab decision and report.  We are still waiting for the Supreme Judicial Court to issue its decision in the six cases that were argued in October. We are also waiting for the Inspector General to issue his report on how the Hinton Lab was run.  We will let you know when either one is issued.

Save the date – April 26 rally.  The Jobs Not Jail coalition is planning to gather 10,000 activists and concerned citizens – including you and your family & friends – for “a day to rise up joyfully, end prison expansion, and devote public energy and resources to job creation – not mass incarceration.”  The Saturday event will start at noon on the Boston Common.  We will provide more information as the details are finalized.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Barb

Barbara J. Dougan
Massachusetts Project Director
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

Contact FAMM’s Massachusetts Project:
By phone: (617) 543-0878
By email: bdougan@famm.org
By mail: P.O. Box 54, Arlington, MA 02476