Contact: Rabiah Burks
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 medical parole.
S. 2371 repeals the two-and-a-half-year mandatory minimum sentences for distribution of small quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as mandatory minimums for repeat offenses of distributing other Class B, Class C, and Class D drugs. The new law also limits the scope of the Commonwealth’s drug-free school zone law, applying it only to those who use violence or credible threats of violence, play a leadership role in the offense, or directly sell to or involve minors during the offense. S.2371 also creates new mandatory minimums for opioid-related and DUI offenses, as well as assault on a police officer.
“Massachusetts is making a positive step toward reducing the number of addicted people and low-level dealers serving lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences. Now, courts can save expensive prison cells for more serious offenses, and judges will get to consider all the facts of a person’s case,” said Molly Gill, vice president of policy at FAMM. “However, it is disappointing to see such strong reforms diluted by the inclusion of new mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimums have failed to stop drug abuse in Massachusetts, and we have no reason to believe new mandatory minimums will stop opioids. The legislature should reconsider the remaining mandatory minimums in the near future.”
In addition to sentencing reform, Massachusetts created a streamlined process for medical parole. The new process will allow the Department of Corrections to grant early parole to terminally ill and permanently incapacitated prisoners. Medical parole will reduce the financial burden on state facilities housing terminally ill and incapacitated prisoners, while granting families the opportunity to be with their loved ones as they die. In January, FAMM joined several national organizations urging the Massachusetts legislature to adopt the most broad and streamlined process possible.
“Dying and incapacitated prisoners pose little threat to safety but come with big costs for taxpayers. Medical parole makes fiscal sense, it makes sense for public safety, and it means the world to families who won’t have to watch loved ones die in prison,” said Gill.
FAMM is a nonpartisan, national advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice reforms to make our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM promotes change by raising the voices of families and individuals who are directly affected by counterproductive sentencing and prison policies.
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