Massachusetts

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History of Legislation:

After leading successful fights to reduce the length of many state mandatory minimum drug sentences, expand parole eligibility for those serving mandatory minimums, and reduce the size of the state’s drug-free school zones, FAMM’s work in Massachusetts will now shift to a supporting role. Because further sentencing reforms are not expected in the immediate future, FAMM is closing down its state program office and suspending its lobbying activities. FAMM’s State Policy Director Greg Newburn will work directly with advocates in the state to continue to promote bold mandatory minimum reform.

Legislation: 

1980’s:
Massachusetts lawmakers created a system of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. These “one size fits all” sentences are usually based solely on the weight of the drugs in question, not what the person actually did or whether he or she is a danger to public safety. 

2010:
State lawmakers eased harsh drug sentencing laws for the first time since they were enacted in the 1980s. Certain nonviolent drug offenders sentenced to mandatory minimums sentences at county prisons (called “houses of correction” in Massachusetts) became eligible for parole. 

2012:
Mandatory minimum sentences for many drug offenses were shortened, by up to one-third. For drug offenders who were already in prison, many became eligible for parole, work release and earned good time – either at an earlier date or for the first time ever. The size of drug-free school zones was also reduced from 1,000 feet to 300 feet, to better reflect the law’s intent to protect children.

2015: 
FAMM helped key legislators draft a bill to repeal all drug mandatory minimums. However, it appears that no action will be taken this session while the Council for State Governments undertakes its review of Massachusetts’ criminal justice system.

QUICK FACTS:

    Massachusetts Dept. of Corrections Expenses/Budget:  

  • State expenses = over $530 million
  • Annual Average Cost per Inmate = $53,040.87 

     State Population: 6.745 million people

     Prison Population: 9,994 people

    Learn how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts (in Spanish).

 

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:


February 28, 2017

Mass. High Court Urges Lawmakers To Revisit Mandatory Minimum Sentences Because Of Impact On Minorities

Originally posted in WBUR. The state’s highest court says lawmakers should reconsider mandatory minimum sentences when it comes to certain drug offenses. In a ruling issued Friday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was considering the case of Imran Laltaprasad, who was arrested in Somerville in 2013 and later convicted on charges of possession with intent to… Read more »


February 28, 2017

A Tipping Point For Criminal Justice Reform

Originally seen in Boston Globe. MARK TWAIN made famous the adage that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. Over the years, piles of reform proposals on an array of issues have been decided by statistical analyses that could be colored dozens of different ways. But when statistics show that in… Read more »


February 28, 2017

Senators Push Criminal Justice Reform

Originally seen in Boston Globe. State senators Thursday called for bold criminal justice reform on issues ranging from repealing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, to restricting the use of solitary confinement, to offering more services for offenders suffering from drug addiction. The lawmakers, speaking to reporters in a gathering convened by Senate President… Read more »


October 17, 2016

FAMM Urges Mass. Legislature to Adopt Sentencing Reform in Response to Supreme Court Ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Lani Prunés lprunes@famm.org 202.822.6700   WASHINGTON – Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) today urged the Massachusetts legislature to pass common sense sentencing reform in response to a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling last week that state law does not currently allow departures from mandatory minimum sentences. FAMM filed an amicus brief… Read more »