News from EPOCA

This morning, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) and Representative Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) will file an omnibus bill backed by a large coalition of community, religious, and union organizations, to improve Massachusetts’ systems of criminal justice, end mass incarceration, and re-invest in our schools and in job-creation.

Included in the bill are:

I. Criminal Justice Reforms:

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences – This would restore judicial discretion in sentencing for drug charges, reducing the risk of longer than warranted prison terms.

Reduce Certain Low-Level Felonies to Misdemeanors – Under this scenario, certain offenses (such as shoplifting or other petty theft, or low-level drug charges) would be made misdemeanors, with different sanctions relying less on long terms of incarceration.

End Collateral Sanctions at the RMV – Under current law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles confiscates the license of a person convicted of any drug offense for up to 5 years, and charges at least $500 to reinstate.

Extraordinary Medical Placement – This would allow a judge to decide whether a person who is permanently incapacitated or terminally ill should be transferred out of prison for treatment, remaining under state custody.

II. Jobs and Schools:

The final sections of the bill establish a trust fund with the savings from these improvements in the criminal justice system, which will be used to right our unbalanced economy, investing in evidence-based practices including job development efforts for youth, veterans, victims of violence and other people with significant barriers to employment, as well as programs to support youth to stay in school.

Job Training to address the skills gap identified by Massachusetts industry leaders;

Transitional jobs and pre-apprenticeship programs to prepare people and place them in good, living-wage jobs;

Youth jobs that provide both sustenance and experience
Initiatives to create new jobs through social enterprises, coops, and other businesses.

Evidence-based programs that support young people to stay in school and get a complete education.

NOTE: Legislators are also filing many of the above sections as separate, individual bills: Mandatory Minimums: Rep. Swan and Sen. Creem;  Extraordinary Medical Placement: Rep. Toomey and Sen. Jehlen;  RMV Collateral Sanctions: Rep. Malia and Sen. Chandler.