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 minimums, as well as create a mechanism for medical parole.
FAMM is disappointed, however, that the bill does not go as far as its counterpart in the Senate. The House leaves in place mandatory minimums for distribution of Class A drugs such as heroin, as well as mandatory minimums for trafficking less than 100 grams of cocaine—all of which were repealed by the Senate. Both chambers, however, agreed to leave in place ineffective mandatory minimums for trafficking in heroin, as well as introduce new mandatory minimums for trafficking in fentanyl and assault on an officer causing serious bodily injury.
“We commend the House for repealing a number of mandatory minimums but we’re disappointed to see this bill fall so short of the reforms approved by the Senate,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “Mandatory minimums have been a resolute failure in curbing drug use and crime in Massachusetts. We hope that the Massachusetts legislature will be bold on this issue as they head into Conference.”
FAMM applauds the House for the inclusion of a medical parole mechanism through which terminally ill and permanently incapacitated inmates may be granted an early release. However, the House’s proposal provides a more narrow definition of terminally ill and a more cumbersome application process than the Senate’s proposal. We hope the two chambers can develop the most effective medical parole system possible during Conference.
“While the House bill does not go as far as we would have liked, we thank the Representatives who pushed for stronger sentencing reform during this process,” said Ring. “States like Texas and Louisiana are able to combat crime and drug use without harmful mandatory minimum laws. We urge the Massachusetts legislature to focus on evidence, not politics, as they continue their push for comprehensive criminal justice reform.”
FAMM promotes commonsense sentencing and prison policies that increase public safety.
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