Come to a discussion on . . .
Sentencing Reform in Massachusetts:
Mandatory sentences for drug offenders
Habitual offender punishments
Mandatory post-release supervision
Monday, March 12, 2012, 7PM – 8:45PM
Watertown Savings Bank Room,
Watertown Public Library,
123 Main Street, Watertown
Presenters will include:
Peter Koutoujian, Sheriff, Middlesex County
Representative David Linsky, Former Assistant District Attorney
Leslie Walker, Executive Director, Prisoners’ Legal Services
Representative Jonathan Hecht
Representative John Lawn
Senator Will Brownsberger
I hope the reform discussion includes mandatory minimums and juvenile life without parole.
Just like the “Hard Time” or “Lockup” shows that are shown on the Discovery channel and emphasize the “dangerousness” of these broken men, it seems that most legislative meetings are keen on discussing the most effective ways of punishment and how long the sentences should be. I understand that this happens to be Monday’s topic for the meeting but Is there any wiggle room for lawmakers to discuss programs for educating the public on legal/illegal drug abuse since they both stem from a mental illness and a need to escape pain. Why are legally sanctioned, medical pill pushers over-prescribing drugs and why are addicted pill-takers treated with a sympathetic and welcoming support system, whereas, addicts of illegal (non-taxable) drugs are condemned to social stigmatism and prison, sometimes for life.
Why not discuss “Habitual Offender Treatments” instead of “Punishments” or focus on “Mandatory Therapy” instead of “Sentences” for drug (agin, illegal=non-taxable) offenders? Why not steer public dialogue towards productive REHABILITATION and empathy rather then on pain delivery.
What are we doing to break the cycle of crime & punishment? We just keep building more prisons. Departments of Corrections do nothing to “correct.” Prisons only want to bring inmates to their knees for the smallest infraction to show them who’s boss. Solitary confinement for years on end is standard in many prisons. It would be kinder to just shoot the guy!
“Reform” is usually another word for how to best dispose of an invisible society so it doesn’t cost the taxpayers more money than necessary.
I’m looking forward to Monday’s meeting…
Tamara, thank you for this message. I basically agree. The frame for the meeting responded to the pending legislation.
Will this discussion take into account the mandated sentencing guidelines under ‘Melanie’s Law’ for repeat OUI offenders which currently have a ‘lifetime’ lookback period in otherwords an offense from 1975 another in 1988 and a third offense in 2012 is a felony with mandatory minimum 5 month jail time?
Thank you for organizing this forum! I appreciate the opportunity to hear from all of the speakers, and to learn about how the proposed reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses would decrease the number of people in state prisons but increase the number of people in local jails. Sheriff Koutoujian shared his frustration with our current laws, which make people serving mandatory minimum sentences ineligible for work release programs.
I remain deeply concerned that the “three strikes” provisions of the bills will drive up the number of people serving very long sentences, including people who have not committed three violent crimes. Although Representative Linsky said the “three strikes” provisions would only apply to about 10 people each year, ultimately it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether to charge someone under this provision, and that is something out of the Legislature’s control.
Rep. Linsky also said that the number 10 is his best guess. I agree with the Boston and Cambridge City Councils that the Legislature should provide the public with a rigorous analysis of the impact of these proposed bills before taking the final step of passing them.
For those who are interested, there will be a rally against the three strikes provisions this Thursday, March 15, at 11:00 a.m., in front of the Statehouse.
Thanks again for bringing people together for an informative discussion.
The data is now available.
The real number of people exposed is more like 300 per year. Only a fraction of them actually get convicted under the statute, but that is because the process is bifurcated — you first get tried for your offense and then for being an habitual offender. If you have already been convicted of the offence, the habitual is a forgone conclusion, so most people plead out in an agreement to a stiff sentence, but with the habitual count dropped.
It’s fair to estimate that the prison population would go up by 10 to 20% as a result of this law. More on these numbers to come.
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