Massachusetts

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Why FAMM is working in Massachusetts 

In 2017, each chamber of the Massachusetts legislature passed its own criminal justice reform package. Both packages included sentencing reform as well as proposals to introduce medical parole in the Commonwealth. A conference committee was appointed in December 2017 to reconcile the differences between the two bills. On March 23, 2018, the conference committee put forth its final bill, S. 2371.

Who S. 2371 Would Help: People convicted in Massachusetts state courts (not federal offenders).

Status: S. 2371 is now law! On April 4th, S. 2371 passed the Massachusetts Senate unanimously and the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a vote of 148-5. On April 13th, Gov. Charlie Baker signed S. 2371 into law. This new law repeals a number of mandatory minimums for low-level drug distribution offenses and creates a system of medical parole in Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, the new law also created new mandatory minimums for drug crimes involving synthetic opioids, fentanyl, and carfentanyl as well as repeat DUI offenses and assault on an officer resulting in serious bodily injury. 

Read the text of the bill: S. 2371

Read FAMM’s summary of S. 2371

Read FAMM’s statement on the signing of S. 2371. 

Resources: 

FAMM’s summary of S. 2371

FAMM’s Statement on Massachusetts Senate Criminal Justice Reform Package

FAMM’s Statement on Massachusetts House of Representatives Criminal Justice Reform Package 

Medical Parole in Massachusetts: National Organizations Weigh In

History of Legislation:

2017: 

In 2017, FAMM supported S.819 sponsored by Senator Cynthia Creem. This bill would have repealed Massachusetts’ mandatory minimum drug laws.  

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.

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.

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. 

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.  

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:


April 13, 2018

FAMM Applauds Gov. Baker, General Assembly for Passage of Criminal Justice Reform

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202-822-6700 FAMM Applauds Gov. Baker, General Assembly for Passage of Criminal Justice Reform BOSTON– FAMM today congratulated Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts lawmakers for enacting a comprehensive criminal justice reform package. The new law, S. 2371, will make significant improvements to every phase of the criminal justice system, including sentencing and… Read more »


March 26, 2018

FAMM: Reforms in New Massachusetts Criminal Justice Bill Going in the Right Direction

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM: Reforms in New Massachusetts Criminal Justice Bill Going in the Right Direction   WASHINGTON – On March 23, Massachusetts House and Senate members of a conference committee released their agreed-upon version of S. 2371, a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill. If passed, the bill would repeal some of the state’s mandatory… Read more »


January 9, 2018

Medical Parole in Massachusetts: National Organizations Weigh In

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 Medical Parole in Massachusetts: National Organizations Weigh In   Today, members of the Campaign for Compassionate Release, a national group of criminal justice reform, health policy, human rights, and faith-based organizations, sent a letter to Massachusetts’ legislators urging them to expand the use of medical parole. The Campaign was formed to… Read more »


November 16, 2017

FAMM’s Statement on Massachusetts House of Representatives Criminal Justice Reform Package

  Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM’s Statement on Massachusetts House of Representatives Criminal Justice Reform Package   BOSTON –  Yesterday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a major criminal justice reform package (S.2200), which impacts every phase of the criminal justice system. FAMM is pleased that the House voted to repeal several low-level drug mandatory… Read more »