Criminal Justice Reform

Representative Jeffrey Sánchez voted for An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform, which passed in the House on November 14.

Growing up in Boston, many of my childhood friends felt the impacts of an unjust criminal justice system. Some made mistakes early in their lives, and they continue to serve time because of distorted record systems, outdated laws, mandatory minimums for low level crimes, and other laws addressed by these bills.

I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by drugs and the violence in my community. In many cases, drugs and violence are inextricably linked because many who deal drugs, like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil, are involved in that same violence.

At the same time, I recognize that there are people turning their lives around. There are people working to prevent youth violence through intervention and encouraging people to talk to each other. I've held community meetings where people tell me they feel under siege by guns, drugs, and the resulting violent environment.

These bills reform our criminal justice system so if people want to change their lives, they can. We can help them get back on their feet, break the cycle of incarceration, and make the most of opportunities.

The following bills are a balancing act - ensuring public safety while also helping those in the criminal justice system that want to turn their lives around.

Here are the two criminal justice bills polled by the House Committee on Ways and Means today, November 6.

Council of State Governments (CSG) Bill

The first, H3935, implements the findings of the Massachusetts Justice Reinvestment Working Group. The group, comprised of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Governor Charlie Baker, Chief Justice Ralph Gantz, and others, conducted a data-driven review of the criminal justice system aimed at reducing recidivism. It would allow inmates to participate in programs that earn them credit toward early release. Click here for a bill summary of the CSG bill (H3935) (PDF - 381 KB)

**The CSG bill was passed by the House on 11/13/17**

House Criminal Justice Bill

The second bill, An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform (H4011), addresses broader aspects of the criminal justice system. Below is a section-by-section summary of the bill (PDF Version - 152 KB). An updated summary of the final bill, as amended, will be posted soon.

An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform Section-By-Section Summary by Jeffrey Sánchez on Scribd