FOCUS: Justice System
GOAL: Repeal Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses
From ACLU MA:
Mandatory minimum sentences, which can subject people with drug addiction to decades in prison, are a plague on our system of justice.
Sentencing should be the judge’s job, but mandatory minimums take judges out of the picture and give prosecutors enormous power to coerce guilty pleas. This results in excessive sentences for minor crimes, incarceration instead of treatment for people with addiction, and systemic racial disparities. Despite the fact that white people and people of color use and sell drugs at comparable rates, Black people and Latinos represent 75 percent of individuals serving mandatory minimum drug sentences.
Too many people are entangled in our criminal justice system, and often because of addiction, mental illness, racial inequity or poverty. Politicians have said that we cannot arrest and prosecute our way out of these problems, and they’re right. It’s time to act and repeal mandatory minimum sentences as an urgent first step towards reform.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Tell your state senator to support S.819 and prioritize ending mandatory minimum sentences as a key part of criminal justice reform.
Use this easy form provided by the ACLU to get in touch with your senator and ask for his or her support.
You can also call your state representative and ask him or her to support H.741.
In case you don’t already have it on speed dial, you can find your state rep’s contact info on the MA Legislature website.
ADDITIONAL READING & INFO:
- ACLU MA Fact Sheet
- ACLU MA Testimony
- League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Testimony
- Bill S.819
- Bill H.741
- Joint Committee on the Judiciary (This committee held hearings on both bills on 6/19 and is deliberating on them now)
- Salem Evening News: Push is on to repeal mandatory drug sentences
- Boston Globe: Criminal justice reform likely in Mass., but how far will it go?