Monday, June 14, 2010

Mandatory Minimums in Massachusetts on Monday

That's a tongue twister!

But editorials in local Massachusetts papers don't mince words:  the state has a chance to reform its mandatory sentencing laws, and it shouldn't miss that chance.

This editorial in The MetroWest Daily News urges Massachusetts to become the next state to reform its mandatory minimum laws -- especially because a single year of prison time costs taxpayers over $40,000.

This piece from the Patriot Ledger describes how mandatory minimums in Massachusetts might actually lead to more crime, not less.  Interestingly, it quotes a district attorney who agrees:

Mandatory minimum sentences enacted in the 1990s were driven by politics, not smart criminal justice policy.

Getting “tough on crime” and clamping down on soft judges seemed like a good idea at the time, but in practice, it has meant drug addicts get little or no post-release supervision. Their addictions go untreated; they are ineligible for work release programs that help them get a fresh, legal start on the rest of their lives. They finish their sentences and are dropped back into the same neighborhoods they left – and too often fall into the same old patterns of crime and substance abuse.

“There’s a real benefit to allowing supervised parole after two-thirds of a mandatory minimum sentence is served,” Norfolk County district attorney William Keating said last year when this bill surfaced. “It makes sense because these people are coming out some day” and without access to programs that can aid their transition back into society, “they’re very likely to fall back into what they were doing before.”
Those living in Fall River, Mass. can also read the editorial in The Herald News.