The Gateway Cities Journal
News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities


Reforming corrections


Last week, at an event with Gov. Patrick, we released a statewide poll on public attitudes on the criminal justice system. The results from nine large Gateway Cities, which along with Boston bear the brunt of violent crime in the state, are mostly in line with public opinion elsewhere: residents want a system that is better than it is currently at preventing crime and rehabilitating criminals, and they support a variety of reforms to get there.

Here are some key findings from the nine large Gateway Cities:

  • More than 40 percent of residents think prevention should be the top priority for the criminal justice system. But they don't think the current system is effective at prevention - or much else other than punishing crime and ensuring fair trials.
  • Half think there are too many people in Massachusetts prisons, and 65 percent think the solution is to reform the system so fewer are sent to prison. Nearly six in ten think that time in prison actually makes an inmate more likely to reoffend when they are released.
  • Only 8 percent think that mandatory minimums are the best way to sentence inmates. Half think judges should decide sentences case by case.
  • By a better than 2-to-1 margin, these Gateway residents think drug use should be treated as a health problem instead of a crime, and 71 percent would favor early release for those convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs.
  • Two-thirds think that providing job training for inmates before release would be "very effective" at reducing crime. Other changes considered likely to be very effective include diverting the mentally ill from prison to treatment (61 percent), requiring post-release supervision for all released inmates (59 percent), and requiring inmates to connect with community groups upon release (57 percent).
  • Overall, 84 percent support reforms similar to what has been done in other states.
While opinion among Gateway City residents was very similar to the rest of the state, there were some differences. Gateway City residents were significantly more likely to feel unsafe walking around their neighborhoods after dark (28 percent vs 12 percent overall), and less likely to have confidence in the current system (63 percent vs 71 percent). They also favored enforcement as a priority more than residents of other areas (25 percent vs 19 percent), ranking it second behind prevention.

These small differences might suggest the Gateway Cities have seen more crime and are a little more hardened towards it, but they seem not to make a major difference in their support for reforming the system. Overall, the message from our polling is that residents, including in the Gateway Cities, appear ready for criminal justice reform.

-- Steve Koczela and Rich Parr, The MassINC Polling Group



NPR's Latino USA runs a segment on the growth in immigrant-owned worker cooperatives, a strategy featured in MassINC's new report on immigrant entrepreneurship. MassINC blogs on other recent develops in immigrant entrepreneurship, including a workshop in New Bedford on community benefit districts and advances in commercial land trusts.


At an event with Boston Fed Chairman Eric Rosengren, Fitchburg announced its plans to use its $400,000 Working Cities Challenge grant to continue the city's eCAREnomics program and to redevelop Main Street.


The Lowell Sun reports on the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development's hearing on the creative economy in Lowell.


GoLocalWorcester wonders how to measure the success and impact of proposed $14 million visitor's center in Worcester.


Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch says the city is prepared to cut ties with the master developer of the $1.6 billion downtown renovation amid questions over the firm's ability to complete the stalled project. Setbacks on the projects have contributed to the likely delayed completion of a new public park in the city.


The Fitchburg Housing Authority is finding that simple changes to improve efficiency and effectiveness are earning them praise from local residents.


Fall River's strong stock of multifamily housing is discouraging developers from building more, real estate agents tell the Herald News.


Attleboro and other South Coast communities will receive part of $11 million in new state grants to rehabilitate public housing.




The Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds hearing on the Governor's education budget proposal. Gateway City issues were at the fore, including expanding opportunities for dual-enrollment.


Governor Patrick awards Gateway City education grants in Lawrence, expanding the English Language Learning Enrichment Academy to 8 more communities. Twenty cities now offer the summer program. 


State officials shot down the proposed Fenix Charter School in Lynn while approving new charters in Springfield and Fall River.


Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Grossman visited Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School in Taunton and voiced his belief in the importance of vocational schools to strengthen the workforce.




This one stood out: Worcester receives a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve transportation in the city. Seems like a stellar example of the power of creative placemakers in Gateway Cities. The grant was awarded through the Ecotarium's arts-based learning project.


State Transportation Secretary Rich Davey lays out the transportation agenda for Western Mass. at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Northhampton. Lawmakers and business groups are pushing for expanded rail service between Springfield and Greenfield.


Demolition crews made way for the planned $83 million Union Station Intermodal Transportation and Rail Center in Springfield.


Pittsfield officials unveil plans for the third phase of their Streetscape Project, which will include upgraded crosswalks, new street lighting and sidewalks, bike lanes, new traffic signaling, and 33 new trees along North Street downtown.


The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and local transportation companies are opposing the state's bid to centralize non-emergency medical transportation services.


Lawmakers anticipate that the state's transportation bond bill will contain funding for South Coast Rail a key project for Fall River, New Bedford, and other South Coast communities.


The Livable Streets Alliance broadens its reach with a public presentation on improving transportation and health in Fall River tonight.




Environmentalists are questioning the EPA's plans to bury contaminated soil in New Bedford Harbor after two minor earthquakes this month shook the area.


Mayor Jon Mitchell and community members criticize the draft budget plan for the Bouchard oil spill cleanup project in New Bedford.


Attleboro receives a state grant of $340,000 to purchase 77 acres of open space to complete 500 contiguous acres of conservation land.




Mayor Richard Kos delivers his State of the City address to the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and brought attention to the rising costs of projects throughout the city.


A Brockton city councilor and the city's director of personnel say the residency law is stopping qualified applicants from seeking municipal jobs.


GoLocalWorcester interviews Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong about her work with the non-profit Ivy Child International.


Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has endorses Steve Kerrigan for Lieutenant Governor. 




By a 2-to-1 margin, voters in Revere approved Mohegan Sun's plan to build a $1.3 billion casino at Suffolk Downs. Mohegan Sun will now compete with an Everett proposal from Wynn Resorts for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license.


Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno and several city residents have joined a lawsuit to block a ballot question that would repeal the Massachusetts Casino Law.


A study commissioned by the North Central Chamber of Commerce argues that a proposed slots parlor in Leominster would be more viable than facilities proposed for Plainville or Raynham because it would be more insulated from competition in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.




The Joint Committee on Higher Education hosts a public hearing at the State House on the Partnership to Advance Collaboration and Efficiency (PACE), an effort to increase efficiency at community colleges.


For a full list of Massachusetts Gateway Cities, click here. The Gateway Cities Journal is a weekly news publication of MassINC. If you would like to unsubscribe to The Journal but would still like to hear from MassINC, please let us know. If you are not yet on our list and would like to sign up, click here. To contribute news or comments, please email MassINC.



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