FOCUS: To ensure the House Criminal Justice Reform bill is as progressive as possible
GOAL: Get your legislator to co-sponsor Amendments to the current version of the House bill
DEADLINE: TODAY, deadline for amendment for co-sponsorship is this afternoon
The MA House is shoring up a criminal justice reform bill in comparable to the one that passed the MA Senate a few weeks ago. The House bill is currently being amended, with a goal of a floor vote next week. The current version of the House bill is not as progressive as the Senate bill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. The amendments sponsored by Rep. Carvalho and Rep. Keefe on repealing long Mandatory Minimums on non-violent drug charges and returning sentencing to judges based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Further information on these amendments from MCAN:
a. Repealing MM on Distribution in a school zone BECAUSE …. people should not receive the harsh penalty of a mandatory minimum merely for being in the wrong place. Not only is this charge not used to prosecute people selling to children (the spirit behind the law), it has been used against people who have possessed drugs while merely driving through a school zone at night while school is not in session.
b. Repealing other Mandatory Minimums on Drug Charges, BUT NOT repealing the new proposed ones on Fentanyl and Carfentanil. We are against trafficking. We live in neighborhoods hard hit by drugs. But we know for any trafficking offenses (which currently start at 18 grams of heroin and cocaine) no one should face a mandatory minimum sentence because they possess 18 grams of heroin or cocaine. That’s the equivalent of 9 packets of sugar, an amount a person with a serious substance use disorder could use in just a few days.
2. The Justice Reinvestment/Savings to Jobs Training amendment sponsored by Rep. Jim O’Day.
a. This amendment would track the savings from reduced prison populations and reinvest half of it in job training, job placement, and other supports. This will further reduce unemployment and recidivism.
3. The Felony Threshold for Property Offenses – Amendments sponsored byRep. Linsky and Rep. Tyler and Rep. Day
a. These would raise the level of what constitutes a felony for theft to $1,500 (compared to the $750 in the current House bill) – $1,500 is the level it would be if the threshold had kept up with inflation and the $250 level is the 3rd lowest in the Nation.
4. The Reducing punitive fines and fees on ex-prisoners—Amendments sponsored byRep. Keefe and Rep. Tyler
a. This amendment would eliminate parole fees and indigent counsel fees, which make it hard for people to succeed in reentry when their CORI already confines them to low wage jobs or no jobs.
5. The following Juvenile Justice Reforms related amendments:
a. Raising the Age of Juvenile Court jurisdiction to 18 from 19—Amendments of Rep. Evandro Carvalho and Rep. Khan Juvenile Courts have more resources for youth and we want young adults at this key age to not be in adult prisons when possible.
b. Moving up time scale on Expungement of juvenile charges to 4 years—Amendment of Rep. Kay Khan
ADDITIONAL READING & INFO:
- Summary of the current version of the House bill: http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/11/06/house-criminal-justice-reform-bill
- ACLU of MA press release on the Senate Criminal Justice Reform Bill: https://aclum.org/uncategorized/one-stop-closer-major-criminal-justice-reform-massachusetts/
- Progressive MASS’s letter template on amendments to the House bill: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vS7NCtIUTdCRNSiAFIc6cyU453xfz17KmAy8Y-2fqL6Jy0WEPN8JcjOU7uwvq9jFsoOLHIAg_2jbEgm/pub