The MassCJRC Journal

A Monthly Newsletter from the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
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MassINC Forum Recap: Gov. Patrick announces plan to reduce recidivism; new poll shows strong public support for reform

We are devoting this issue of the Journal to the many exciting developments that came out of the MassINC criminal justice forum earlier this month. Thank you to all of you who were able to attend the event. A special thank you to Gov. Patrick for his leadership, to the other elected officials too numerous to name in attendance, and to our distinguished panel for their thoughtful remarks and their hard work on this issue.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from the event. 

Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at MassINC's forum on February 20th.
Analysis: Gov. Patrick's 5-year plan to reduce recidivism 
In his remarks, the Governor contrasted his administration's approach to criminal justice with the "slogans" and "half-truths" of the tough on crime era. "For a long time, 'tough on crime' policies made good sound bites," said the Governor. "But they have not made us safer. They have cost us a fortune. And they have contributed to the unwise and unnecessary devastation of entire communities and multiple generations."
Instead, the Governor laid out a 5-year plan to reduce recidivism, with four primary goals:
  • Promoting successful reentry for released inmates;
  • Expanding access to substance abuse treatment;
  • Improving care for the mentally ill; and
  • Reinvigorating the Commonwealth's Sentencing Commission.
The governor closed his speech by pledging to work with the audience, which included many leading criminal justice practitioners, experts, and policymakers, "to toss out the tired old slogans in favor evidence, experience and wisdom". We at MassINC and the Coalition applaud the Governor for his vision and pledge to work with him towards evidence-based reforms to the criminal justice system.

You can read the Governor's full speech and his 5-year plan on his website.
New Poll Finds Public Support for Reform
MassINC Polling Group President Steve Koczela with Gov. Deval Patrick
The broad strokes of the Governor's plan - improving reentry programs, treatment for drug abuse and mental illness, and revisiting sentencing - are very much favored by the public, according to a new public opinion study by The MassINC Polling Group. MPG President Steve Koczela presented the findings of the report at the event. Among the top findings:
  • Massachusetts residents want to prioritize prevention and rehabilitation - two areas where the current system is not seen as effective;
  • Two-thirds would rather reform the system to send fewer criminals to prisons instead of building more prisons in the Commonwealth;
  • Residents show very little support for mandatory minimum sentencing; and
  • Drug use is seen more a health problem than a crime, and the public favors treating drug users over incarcerating them.
"The public is clearly ready to try a new approach to the criminal justice system" said Koczela. "Both the poll and the focus groups we conducted showed a clear interest in pursuing more effective solutions rather than staying the course with current policies." 

You can view the slides from the event, read the summary brief, and download the full poll results on MPG's website.

Next Steps

We look forward to capitalizing on the momentum from last week's event by moving quickly to brief lawmakers and other stakeholders on the poll, as well as the 2013 MassINC report on criminal justice issues. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has taken a strong personal interest in issues of criminal justice, drug addiction and reentry, is attending our next MassINC board meeting, and we plan to present him with Boston-specific poll responses. If you would like to schedule a briefing for your group, please contact us.

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Many of you may be receiving the Criminal Justice Journal for the first time because you registered for our event. If you would like to continue to receive these emails, please click here to subscribe. You can also sign up for other email publications from MassINC and Commonwealth Magazine, including Commonwealth's Daily Download news digest, the weekly Back Story newsletter, and the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute's Gateway Cities Journal.

Panelists (from left): True-See Allah, Kevin Burke, Marian T. Ryan, Max Stern, Greg Torres, Andrea Cabral, Steven W. Tompkins, and John Larivee

The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition is a group of prosecutors, corrections practitioners, defense lawyers, community organizers, and businessmen and women working together to reform the Massachusetts criminal justice system. MassINC supports the work of the Coalition with research, polling, communications and outreach.

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Boston, MA 02108

Photograph by: Swampyank at English Wikipedia

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