The Governor signed the bill today, Friday, April 13. Perhaps that is a good luck omen!
View the signing ceremony speeches here.
After four months of negotiations, the conference committee between the House and Senate reached final agreement on a criminal justice reform package. Below is my statement at our press conference and further below is an outline of the bill.
The agreement we have reached today is about lifting people up instead of locking people up. And it is about cutting the chains that hold people down when they are trying to get back on their feet.
And it is about better protecting the public from drugs and violence.
We are profoundly grateful to and respectful of the men and women who labor in the trenches every day to protect us from crime and to administer justice – the police officers, the prosecutors, the judges, the probation officers, the correctional officers, the parole officers and the lawyers. And we know their work is essential to the preservation of civil society.
At the same time, we are deeply concerned about high incarceration rates in commwunities of poverty and color and we understand that the criminal justice system has become just too hard for people to navigate. It mires people in cycles of frustration from which they cannot escape.
Most issues in criminal justice involve hard judgment calls and many are deeply controversial. They are the kind of difficult issues that many seek to avoid. So, I’m very grateful for the leadership of former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Speaker Bob Deleo for bringing us to the threshold of this conversation. I am also grateful to Senate President Chandler for sustaining our momentum.
Last fall, both branches produced and approved comprehensive criminal justice packages that examined the system from front to back. The bills each branch produced differed from each other in approach and in hundreds of details. We have spent the last four months sorting through all the pieces.
We considered and discussed each piece individually and we hope we have succeeded in re-assembling a balanced bill, each piece of which actually works. We hope and believe that the final bill is really a better bill than either branch started with.
To the extent we have been successful, it reflects the fact that we have listened to each other, we have respected each other and we have not been afraid to accept each other’s thoughts and feelings. I will remain forever grateful to all the five of other people who sat at that table for hours on end.
I am especially grateful to my co-chair Claire Cronin whose abiding sense of fairness is what kept this conversation moving and brought it to a successful conclusion. I am also especially grateful to the staff supporting the committee members. We started as several teams, but we finished as one team.
Decriminalize minor offenses
Divert minor offenses away from prosecution/incarceration
Reform Bail to reduce unnecessary incarceration
Repeal/limit mandatory minimums for non-opiate, non-weight retail drug offenses
Strengthen minimum mandatories for opioid trafficking
Strengthen Protections for Public Safety
Reduce solitary confinement
Generally improve prison conditions
Release prisoners who are permanently incapacitated and pose no safety risk
Make it easier for people to get back on their feet
Take better care of juveniles and young adults
Improve transparency of the criminal justice system
Better protect women in the criminal justice system
Reduce and remedy errors of justice
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