The House Can Strengthen Criminal Justice Reform

Mon, Tue, Wed of this week (Nov. 13-15), the Massachusetts House will start voting on a comprehensive criminal justice reform. The House bill, as expected, is not as comprehensive or as progressive as the Senate bill.

We must work to make it better before the vote on its final form: we must contact our State Representatives, NOW, loudly, and in as large numbers as we can. 

The House will be voting on amendments Monday through Wednesday. 

It's vitally important representatives hear that you want to see a stronger bill that delivers on the promise of comprehensive criminal justice reform. Mass incarceration has proven socially a socially and economically damaging phenomenon, and it's time for Massachusetts to move beyond it.

Email/call your Representative TODAY (a copy/paste email script is here: and tell them to support/oppose the amendments below (when you're done--take a sec and let us know you called/contacted your Rep: it helps us know where we need to target more!). We'll be tracking the progress on these measures in the spreadsheet below. 

SUPPORT these Amendments: 

  • Amendment #19 (Cahill), which allows for diversion for juveniles in the court system
  • Amendment #41 (Gonzalez), which allows for good time eligibility for those who are serving mandatory minimums which would be repealed by bill
  • Amendment #42 (Gonzalez), which eliminates price gouging from telephone companies and requires comparable rates for prisons
  • Amendment #48 (Atkins), which requires decent cell conditions, good time eligibility, and access to programming for those in solitary confinement
  • Amendment #67 (Meschino), which eliminates cash bail for juveniles
  • Amendment #89 (Linsky), which would raise the level of what constitutes a felony to $1,500 in line with the Senate bill (as opposed to the House bill’s $750)
  • Amendment #112 (O’Day), which would track the savings from reduced prison populations and reinvest half of it in job training, job placement, and other supports to further reduce unemployment and recidivism (justice reinvestment)
  • Amendment #142 (Holmes), which provides for alternatives to incarceration for the primary caretakers of dependent children
  • Amendment #144 (Balser), which would strengthen the data collection for and limitations on the use of solitary confinement, and protects the rights of those in solitary confinement
  • Amendment #148 (Khan), which would raise the top age at which a young person is treated as a juvenile in the courts to 19, making far greater rehabilitation and support available to them
  • Amendment #157 (Carvalho), which eliminates racially discriminatory mandatory minimum sentences related to  arbitrarily defined “school zones”
  • Amendment #160 (Khan), which would allow for the expungement of juvenile records
  • Amendment #194 (Keefe), which would repeal mandatory minimums for all non-violent drug sentences except trafficking in fentanyl and carfentanil.
  • Amendment #197 (Keefe), which eliminates parole fees and public counsel fees for people who are indigent

OPPOSE these Amendments: 

  • Amendment #1 (Puppolo), which would allow for more restrictive bail if someone is brought in again while they are out on bail
  • Amendments #4 & #7 (Frost), which establish mandatory minimum sentences for assaulting a police officer, peddling a dangerous myth of a “war on cops” and putting a chilling effect on protest
  • Amendment #8 (Linsky), which calls for jail time for anyone who disrupts a court proceeding
  • Amendment #13 (Linsky), which allows for viewing sealed records for youth program volunteers
  • Amendment #23 (Lyons), which creates manslaughter charges for anyone providing a drug that results in death, thus making individuals less likely to call for emergency medical help in such situations
  • Amendment #39 (Velis), which allows for the keeping of pregnant women in solitary confinement  
  • Amendment #40 (Velis), which strikes out time limits for solitary confinement
  • Amendments #53, #115, & #174 (Jones), which would expand the state’s wiretapping law and curtail privacy rights
  • Amendment #124 (Jones), which strikes the CORI sealing provisions of the underlying bill
  • Amendment #126 (Jones), which strikes the increase in the felony threshold for larceny in the underlying bill
  • Amendment #127 (Jones) & #137 (Lyons), which give local law enforcement authority to hold people in custody based on a detainer from ICE.

Your outreach is URGENT and CRITICAL. Please, use your influence with your networks and talk them thru doing this, too, ASAP. We're trying to make it easy--but we need the numbers to be effective! 

 As the debate and voting begins... 

We will track progress on Amendments and any roll call votes on the rubric below (with periodic updates).

To get a good primer on how Amendment Activism works (and how the system works to keep you in the dark about this important opportunity for advocacy), take a look at our rundown of the recent votes in the Senate for criminal legal system reforms:

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published this page in Issues 2017-11-10 15:44:46 -0500
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