May 24, 2016
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts



Three important criminal justice reform bills remain stalled in committees. They must be reported out if they are going to be voted on and enacted before the end of the session in July.

Since some bills are in House committees and some in Senate committees, they are listed below according to whether you should contact your Senator or your Representative. You can find contact information here. For detailed information on the bills, please see our testimony here. If you want to choose one bill, please focus on S.2176 since it is furthest along in the process.

Call or email your Representative about this bill:
  • S.2176.This bill increases the amount of money involved before a crime is defined as larceny. Massachusetts sets the lowest amount in the nation for a larceny conviction at $250. This bill will increase that threshold to $1500 in line with the rest of New England. The $250 threshold makes felons of countless low-level offenders.  Any felony carries a heavy stigma, creates barriers to jobs, and contributes to reliance on public assistance. The bill has passed the Senate and is sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee.  Ask your Representative to urge that committee and Speaker DeLeo to report this bill out. 
Call or email your Senator about this bill:
  • S.71 Restorative Justice. Instead of sending first-time and young non-violent offenders to jail, this bill sets up an office to coordinate and promote an alternative to directly address the behavior that got the individual into trouble, to give victims a chance to have their voices heard, and to promote healing and reparations in the community.  The bill is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Please ask your Senator to urge that it be reported out of committee. 
Call or email both Senator and Representative about this bill:
  • H.1270 Youth expungement. This bill would clear a person's record and give them a second chance 10 years after a youthful offense. It also cleans the records of those falsely accused; currently there is no way to do that.  This bill is still in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and has until June 1 to be reported out of committee if it is to be acted on in this session.  Ask both your Senator and your Representative to urge Judiciary to report this bill out of committee.
Your support of these bills will help reform our criminal justice system. Please contact your legislators while there is still time for these bills to come up for a vote.

If you would like to take additional action on criminal justice reform, you can participate in a Lobby Day Wednesday, May 25.  Meet at 10:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the State House for a briefing. This effort is aimed specifically at bill S. 2176, but you could certainly mention the other bills when you talk to your legislators.

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