New Poll Shows Broad Support for Repealing Massachusetts Drug Mandatory Minimums

Post Date: December 3, 2015

FAMM says it’s time for legislature to act

MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Dougan, (617) 543-0878,

BOSTON – By a nearly three-to-one margin, Massachusetts’s voters support repealing mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug offenders, according to a new poll released today by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). The poll, conducted by Suffolk University’s Political Research Center, found that 62 percent of the state’s registered voters support repeal while just 21 percent are opposed. Suffolk University polled 500 Massachusetts residents between November 18 – 22. (See below for a presentation of the results or click here to view full results.) 

“Massachusetts voters get it,” said Barbara J. Dougan, Massachusetts project director for FAMM, which commissioned the poll questions. “They know that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses are a failed public policy. They want these ineffective and expensive laws repealed. The only question left is whether state lawmakers will listen to their constituents.”

Across the board, Massachusetts residents strongly support alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. The poll also found that:

  • 73 percent of respondents agree with the statement that “Massachusetts spends too much money on locking up nonviolent drug offenders and should shift that funding to other priorities, like drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs that could reduce the likelihood that prisoners will reoffend.” Only 15 percent of respondents disagreed.
  • Even when presented with the option of studying the issue further, 47 percent of respondents said the state shouldn’t wait but should instead repeal mandatory minimums now. Only 33 percent think the issue needs further study.
  • Half of Massachusetts residents would be likely to re-elect a legislator who voted to repeal mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, while only 19 percent would be less likely to re-elect a legislator who voted for such reforms.

“This poll is clear evidence that the Massachusetts public is ready for the kinds of sentencing reforms we’ve seen successfully implemented in New York, Michigan, and many other states,” said Dougan. “Knowing what we do about the failure of mandatory minimums as public policy, and now the public’s support for reform, it’s time for the Legislature to get serious about moving the bills to repeal mandatory minimums that were filed last January.”

FAMM is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to ensure that punishment fits the crime. In 2008, FAMM launched its Massachusetts project, focusing on drug sentencing laws.