Final Criminal Justice Package Released

Update: April 13 — the bill is law!

The Governor signed the bill today, Friday, April 13. Perhaps that is a good luck omen!

View the signing ceremony speeches here.

Package summary and explainers 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.

See package summary here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

Join the Conversation


  1. Will,

    If you do nothing else in the legislature (unlikely) this is a legacy to be proud of. Are the specifics of compensation for wrongful convictions available?



    1. Yes. The changes regarding wrongful convictions appear here in the bill.

      They provide for swifter litigation, interim awards of rehabilitation and education, higher damage awards and attorneys fees.

  2. No professional nor drivers license should be taken for inability to afford ones child support. No person can reasonably keep or find a job nor transport their children they are no longer able to drive or no longer able to make a living if ones professional license is taken away. This portion should be changed that NO license can be taken for inability to afford ones child support. No one wins if they do

  3. There is nothing here to strengthen the restraining orders to require higher standard of evidence which has criminal penalties – one can obtain a restraining order based on he said she said but any violation becomes a criminal matter bypassing a defendant’s right to a fair and impartial hearing. Further there is not balance for a defendant the scales of justice are very tilted to the plaintiff and commonwealth

  4. Congratulations on a truly sweeping reform package, covering a multitude of important and beneficial changes and that I know fromwatching up close is the culmination of many years of your hard work and indefatigable leadership.

  5. I truly appreciate all your hard work on this! This legislation will improve people’s lives and hopefully begin the resurrection of entire communities. It was only through your vision and persistence that it happened. I’m so proud to have you represent me! Thank you!

  6. Thank you! I’m on a civil rights tour in Alabama, so this feels like timely news indeed. I look forward to reading the bill in detail when I get home.

  7. Will, I . appreciate the broad inclusion of every facet of this issue, and agree with your recommendations. Thanks so much.

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