Category: Criminal Justice

190th Session Wrap Up: Criminal Justice Reform

190th Session Wrap Up: Criminal Justice Reform

As we wrap up yet another legislative session, my office has worked to provide recaps on the vast array of subject areas that I have worked on and voted on in the Chamber. Below is an overview of the criminal justice legislation that the House voted on this session (May 19th 2018 & November 15th 2018). 

This session, criminal justice reform finally took substantial steps towards progress for the Commonwealth. Two pieces of legislation were passed on the subject. One, and omnibus criminal justice bill, encompasses a wide breadth of topics including justice system data collection, the juvenile justice system, mandatory minimums and solitary confinement among them. Also relevant, An Act limiting the use of prison labor, was a direct response to the Trump administration suggestion that certain MA inmates travel to the southern border in order to help “build the wall.” This act prohibits MA inmates from doing labor outside the prison’s boundaries. Both of these acts aim to keep our community safe and protect inmates from cruel prison practices.  Jay has been a strong advocate for criminal justice reform since he started in the legislature based on his experiences in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor.  He was a strong advocate for several provisions that made it into the final legislation, including the elimination of mandatory minimums for drug offenses, diversion to treatment for certain crimes, and bail reform.   

H.4011- An Act relative to criminal justice reform

Topic: Omnibus Criminal Justice Bill

  • Standardizes arrest data collection by requiring the department of criminal justice to obtain arrest data in a format consistent with the FBI’s National Incident-Based reporting System and maintain the information of a publicly accessible website.
  • Establishes a Childhood Trauma Task Force to study and give recommendations on the treatment of juveniles in the justice system.
  • Requires convicted felons to submit required DNA sample upon conviction rather than within one year of conviction.
  • Eliminates minimum sentencing for several drug offenses.
  • Raises the min. age of a delinquent child.
  • Requires the Office of the Child Advocate to record data for the juvenile justice system.
  • Limits the amount of time an inmate can spend in solitary confinement.
  • Extends Good Samaritan protections.
  • Prevents an employer from discriminating against an applicant for employment for failing to provide information on a misdemeanor conviction over three years old.
  • Establishes the criminal offense of manslaughter by a business organization.
  • Includes sections on:
    • Bail reform
    • Criminal records
    • Restorative justice
    • Medical Parole
    • Diversion programs

Outcome: This bill passed through both chambers and was signed by the Governor on April 13, 2018

To read the full text of the House bill, click here.

To read the full text of the Conference Committee Report (Final Version), click here.

Notes:

Diversion to Treatment – This provision to the bill was based on a proposal that I made. The diversion to treatment component makes it so that an alternative route to incarceration can exist for first time offenders of any age. It requires District Attorney’s offices across the State to implement such rehabilitative programs and to ensure access to veterans, juveniles, persons with disabilities, and persons with substance abuse disorders.

Bail Reform – I was proud to jointly file this amendment with Representative Rogers to establish a Bail Commission to study the effectiveness of the current cash bail system and seek the feasibility of a Risk Assessment Tool for the Commonwealth. There is also a component to speak to biases that can occur in such a Risk Assessment.  Changes to our bail laws will have a great impact on our criminal justice system as all defendants are impacted by the bail rules.

 

H.3034- An Act limiting the use of prison labor

Topic: Criminal Justice
SummaryRequires that any inmate work program in MA be performed within its boundaries and prohibits MA’s participation in any national inmate work program to build a wall along the country’s southern border.
Outcome: This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

State Senate primary is today; DA race widens

Updated April 3, 2018 — A milestone is looming during a busy election season in Suffolk County. State Rep. Nick Collins will be unopposed in the April 3 Democratic primary as he seeks to fill a vacancy in the First Suffolk Senate seat.

The Tuesday election has Collins alone on the ballot, next to a write-in option, and the Republican and Libertarian slots will be write-ins. Polls open at 7 a.m. for the district, which includes broad swaths of South Boston, Dorchester and Mattapan.

While Collins will need to face off with unenrolled candidates Althea Garrison and Donald Osgood, Sr. on the May 1 final election, the South Boston representative enters the primary in strong shape. He has some $160,000 in his war chest and the endorsements of politicians including former state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, state Rep. Dan Hunt, and most recently Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins.

Several have already pulled papers for the general election race later this year for the First Suffolk: Collins, Osgood, Duckens Petit-Maitre (D), and unenrolled candidates Garrison, Jesus Rosa, and Elciana M. Ogunjobi. Garrison, however, announced at a Reporter-moderated panel that she plans to run for the First Suffolk only in the special election, and instead run in the fall for the Fifth Suffolk seat, which she represented for one term in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, the field to replace Dan Conley as Suffolk District Attorney widens still further. Lawyer Linda Champion pulled papers on March 9 to seek the post, after Conley announced last month that he would not run for re-election.

Champion is the fifth Democrat openly seeking the seat: state Rep. Evandro Carvalho, of Dorchester, who is an attorney and a former prosecutor in Conley’s office; Greg Henning, of Dorchester, who led the Suffolk district attorney’s office gang unit and has worked in the office for about a decade; and Shannon McAuliffe, of the North End, who was director of Chelsea-based Roca, which works with gang-involved youth; and Rachael Rollins, of Roxbury, former chief legal council for Massport and former Assistant US Attorney.

Boston City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty, of South Boston, announced Monday night that he would not seek the seat.

“While I have long been interested in the DA’s position, and greatly enjoyed my time spent as a prosecutor, I will always put my home life ahead of career interests,” he said in a statement. “We have been working through a family medical matter and, while the prognosis is good, my full attention is on what is most important to me, my family. Now is not the right time for me to take on the immense obligations of a countywide campaign.”

Mayor Martin Walsh’s chief legal counsel Eugene O’Flaherty, of Charlestown is reportedly still mulling a run.

Candidates for all state and district races have until May 1 to file nomination papers.

Henning turned in over 1,600 signatures at City Hall in mid-March, his campaign said. Carvalho this week touted endorsements from state Reps Jay Livingstone of Beacon Hill, Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain, Mike Moran of Brighton, Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, and Chynah Tyler of Roxbury a week after former US Attorney for Massachusetts, Wayne A. Budd, was announced as Carvalho’s campaign chair.

In the Fifth Suffolk state representative district, up for grabs after Carvalho decided to seek the district attorney post, seven interested parties have pulled nomination papers, though not all are still hoping to claim the seat.

Community activist Elizabeth Miranda jumped into the race on March 22. Darrin D’Wayne Howell, a Dorchester resident and former staffer for then-City Councillor Chuck Turner and a political organizer at the 1199SEIU healthcare workers union, pulled papers on March 12, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. Howell sought the Sixth Suffolk seat, won by state Rep. Russell Holmes, in 2010. In an interview with the Boston Globe in March 2017, Howell said he may seek elected office again.

Other names in contention for the Fifth Suffolk include Democrats Brad Howze, and Roy Owens, and unenrolled candidates Garrison and Steven A. Wise. Ceferina Murrell, former chief of staff for state Sen. Forry, initially pulled papers to run, but confirmed on Tuesday she would no longer be running.

State Rep. Dan Hunt, running unopposed for his 13th Suffolk seat, has submitted some signatures already, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. State Rep. Russell Holmes is also presently unopposed in his re-election bid for the Sixth Suffolk rep’s seat. Only one person— Ryan McGoff—has so far pulled papers to fill Collins’ open Fourth Suffolk seat in South Boston and parts of Dorchester.

In the 12th Suffolk House district, representing Mattapan and parts of Dorchester and Milton, incumbent state Rep. Dan Cullinane may face a second challenge from Jovan Lacet, who has pulled papers for the House seat. Cullinane faced Lacet in 2016, winning the race and defending his seat in 2016 with 54 percent of the vote to Lacet’s 34 percent.

https://www.dotnews.com/2018/state-senate-primary-set-tuesday-da-field-widens

Bail reforms working in other states

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON — As state senators prepare to take up a bill this week that would overhaul the state’s bail system, one Massachusetts sheriff said he’s seeing positive signs from other states that have undertaken bail reform.

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian last week attended a Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration summit at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and returned armed with business cards from officials in Tennessee and New Jersey, whom he hopes to put in touch with lawmakers here.

Tennessee and New Jersey recently reformed their bail systems, and Koutoujian said law enforcement from those states could serve as useful resources for Massachusetts legislators mulling similar changes.

“They’ve had really good results, and the great thing was, the results they’re getting out of New Jersey are completely consistent — the numbers are almost identical — to the results they’re seeing out of Tennessee as well, which is interesting,” Koutoujian told the News Service. “It validates the numbers are consistent and real, basically.”

New Jersey’s bail reform — a move away from a cash-based system to one involving a tool to evaluate a defendant’s risk of fleeing or causing danger to the public — took effect on Jan. 1, 2017. By Aug. 31, the state court system there reported that the number of people in jail before a trial had dropped 15.6 percent since the year began, from 7,337 people to 6,195.

Of the 29,637 eligible defendants arrested from January through August 2017, 8 percent were released on recognizance, roughly 71 percent were ordered to participate in some form of a pretrial monitoring system, and 17.4 percent were placed in detention.

A major package of criminal justice reforms the Senate plans to debate on Thursday includes measures intended to address an August ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court that judges cannot set bail “higher than necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance” and “that a judge may not consider a defendant’s alleged dangerousness in setting the amount of bail.”

The ruling came in a case filed by Jahmal Brangan, who was held at the Hampden County jail for more than three and a half years because he was unable to post the $40,000 bail after his 2014 armed robbery arrest.

“A bail that is set without any regard to whether a defendant is a pauper or a plutocrat runs the risk of being excessive and unfair,” Justice Geraldine Hines wrote in the decision shortly before retiring from the high court. “A $250 cash bail will have little impact on the well-to-do, for whom it is less than the cost of a night’s stay in a downtown Boston hotel, but it will probably result in detention for a homeless person whose entire earthly belongings can be carried in a cart.”

The bill (S 2185), according to a Senate Ways and Means summary, abolishes cash bail for juveniles and requires judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail for adults. Judges would be given additional options besides cash bail, including unsecured bonds and a wider range of pretrial conditions, and the bill would require that conditions imposed be the least restrictive necessary to ensure the defendant will appear in court.

Judges would be prohibited from setting bail so high “that the defendant represents, in good faith, that he or she cannot afford” it, except if the judge finds the risk of non-appearance is so great that no other conditions would ensure the defendant would come to court, and that the defendant is likely to be incarcerated if convicted. In such cases, the judge would have to orally or in writing explain those findings for the record.

The judge would also have to explain “why the commonwealth’s interest in the secured bond amount outweighs any likely adverse impact on the defendant’s employment, education, mental health treatment, substance or alcohol use treatment and primary caretaker responsibilities.”

The bill would also require the development and use of a risk assessment tool for bail determinations, and expand the ability of pretrial detention for defendants determined to be dangerous, according to the summary.

Whether the bail changes ultimately become law would depend on the level of support they receive in the Senate — where lawmakers filed 162 amendments to the bill — and in the House, where leaders have not yet specified what criminal justice reform measures they intend to pursue.

Rep. Claire Cronin, the House chair of the Judiciary Committee, has been meeting with representatives to discuss criminal justice, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo has enlisted former Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland as an advisor.

In a letter to Cronin earlier this month, six members of the House Progressive Caucus — co-chairs Byron Rushing and Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Reps. Mary Keefe, David Linsky, Jay Livingstone and Jay Rogers — identified bail reform as one of their priorities.

“Instituting a risk-based approach to pretrial release detentions would allow persons who cannot afford money bail to avoid incarceration, losing employment, and having to find emergency childcare, all while saving the state money,” the letter said. “Massachusetts should focus the money spent on unnecessary incarceration for pre-trial individuals who pose little threat to public safety towards expanding programs that encourage an alternative route to incarceration like restorative justice or diversion programs.”

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31401924/bail-reforms-working-other-states-koutoujian-says

Governor Baker signs rewritten recreational pot law

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law on Friday overhauling the marijuana legalization measure voters put on the books in November, and immediately afterward offered a cautious outlook on the future of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts.

“I don’t support this,” Baker said after signing the law in his office, shortly past noon. “I worry terribly about what the consequences over time will be, and having spent a lot of time talking to folks in Colorado and in Washington and having talked to a lot of people who’ve talked to folks in Colorado and Washington, there are a lot of pitfalls that we need to work hard to avoid.”

A vocal opponent of the ballot question that legalized and regulated the use, sale and possession of marijuana by people age 21 and older, Baker praised the work of legislators to address issues dealing with local control, packaging and potency labeling.

“The people voted this, and I think it’s really important that we put the program in place and deliver a workable, safe, productive recreational marijuana market for them in Massachusetts,” he said.

Retail marijuana sales are set to begin in July 2018, just over 11 months away.

The new law raises the maximum tax rate for retail marijuana sales from 12 percent to 20 percent and changes the process by which municipalities can ban marijuana shops within their borders.

Now, the local governing boards of cities and towns that voted against the ballot initiative will be able to institute a ban, while a majority of voters must sign off on a ban in communities that supported Question 4 last November.

Baker was joined for the signing by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, lawmakers who had been on either side of the ballot question and members of the conference committee that negotiated the new law: Rep. Jay Livingstone, who supported legalization; Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Paul Tucker, who both opposed it; and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, Rep. Mark Cusack, Rep. Hannah Kane, Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Sen. Will Brownsberger – all conferees.

The conference committee blew past a June 30 deadline to reconcile the differing House and Senate bills, delivering a compromise to Baker on July 20. Baker described the issue as “very tough and difficult and complicated,” and Mariano drew laughter from the other lawmakers when he interjected to describe the process as “a lot more complicated than you know.”

“I want to thank the Legislature for sticking with this,” Baker said. “This was a very difficult negotiation and a very tough conference committee, and they saw it through all the way to the end and got a bill here.”

Baker had 10 pens on his desk for the signing and distributed them to the legislators afterwards, handing the first one to Lewis — who, like him, was involved in the No on 4 campaign — and thanked him for his leadership.

Cusack, who chairs the Legislature’s Marijuana Policy Committee with Jehlen, said the cannabis industry in Massachusetts has the potential to grow into a multibillion-dollar one and that the committee will keep working on issues that may arise over time.

“There will definitely be jobs, and there will be economic spinoff from growing, manufacturing and retail, so there will be a heavy impact economically.” Cusack said.

The law’s first deadline is Tuesday, by which Baker, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Attorney General Maura Healey must each appoint five members to a Cannabis Advisory Board.

“The treasurer, the attorney general and our administration and others have a lot of work to do between now and next July to get this thing stood up, and we’re all going to chase it as aggressively as we can,” Baker said.

About an hour after the law was signed, Goldberg announced her five advisory board picks: Norton Arbelaez, who founded RiverRock Medical Marijuana Center in Denver; former Brookline public health and human services director Dr. Alan Balsam; Sage Naturals President and CEO Michael Dundas; Jamie Lewis of Mayflower Medicinals; and attorney and cannabis advocate Shanel Lindsay.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 campaign, said the next main focus for advocates is ensuring that regulators are given sufficient funding and appointments are made on time.

“That’s crucial, and we hope that’s met because we don’t want to see any unintended delays due to appointments not being made in the allotted time,” he said.

http://randolph.wickedlocal.com/news/20170728/governor-baker-signs-rewritten-recreational-pot-law

http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20170728/governor-baker-signs-rewritten-recreational-pot-law

Rep. Livingstone’s 2017-18 Legislative Agenda

Filed Legislation

2017-2018 Legislative Session

I am so thrilled to share some of the bills that I have filed this legislative session. Our team hit the ground running with bills spanning topics like criminal justice reform, protecting civil liberties, encouraging social justice, and promoting education. Here are some bills that I am particularly excited about this session:

HD2550 – An Act relative to criminal forfeiture
This bill repeals and replaces the Commonwealth’s existing forfeiture law, which received an F grade from the Institute of Justice in a recent 50-state survey. Currently property owners in Massachusetts do not have to be convicted of a crime or even charged with one to permanently lose their money, cars, businesses, or even their homes.  This bill would make three critical reforms to change that situation and align Massachusetts law with the laws of most other states:

  • Require a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be forfeited,
  • Require the state to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture, and
  • Eliminate a profit-motive for seizing personal property by directing forfeited property to the General Fund instead of the law enforcement agency.

HD 655 – An Act creating a common application for core food, health, and safety-net programs
This bill works to address the disparity commonly known as the “SNAP Gap.” Currently, there are about 680,000 people who are receiving Mass Health benefits and are likely eligible for SNAP but are not receiving SNAP benefits, for which the State is currently reimbursed by the federal government. MassHealth and SNAP have separate application processes that ask for the same basic information, duplicating efforts and creating more work for both the state and applicants. This legislation would create a common application portal to let low income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time. This would lay a foundation for a comprehensive common application portal for safety-net benefits which would reduce duplicate data collection and increase the efficiency of State Government while helping our State’s low-income population.


HD 3502 – An Act for uniform fiduciary access to digital assets
As we increasingly use online services, it becomes more important to consider our digital afterlife. This bill would address the accessibility and privacy of a person’s digital information in the event that they pass away. This privacy-centric legislation accomplishes these important goals by balancing the interests of all parties – the privacy of the deceased user; the privacy of the people with whom the deceased corresponded; the needs of the fiduciary; and existing federal law (Electronic Communications Protection Act). The legislation would empower the user to decide if and how their communications and digital content are accessed via user level controls.


HD 400 – An Act Authorizing the establishment of a commission to evaluate student health
Creates a legislative commission to address and evaluate the growing health needs of students across the Commonwealth, including exploring the need for more school nurses in each school.  Currently, class room teachers spend too much time addressing the health needs of their students, instead of teaching, because of a lack of school nurses.


HD 2131 – An Act protecting sunlight in certain public parks
Builds on the existing State Legislative Protection on the Boston Common and Public Garden by including the Charles River Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, and Magazine Beach Park.  This bill does not weaken any current protections or allow any new exceptions.


HD 401 –  An Act to clarify the meal break law and to establish private enforcement
Massachusetts employees are legally entitled to meal breaks after six hours of employment.  Courts may punish employers who violate this law with a fine of $300 to $600 dollars, but at present, only the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute such offenders.  This legislation would allow employees to go to court without being accompanied by the Attorney General, thereby alleviating the burden on state resources while providing employees with a more effective remedy.  Ultimately, this bill seeks to treat meal break requirements in the same legal manner as wage payments and enact the same remedy for violators.


HD 664 – An Act expanding eligibility for diversion to treatment for criminal offenders
Current law allows 18-22 year old individuals who are charged with a crime but have never been convicted of a crime to avoid a criminal record by successfully completing a drug treatment program. This bill would expand eligibility to defendants of any age that are facing district court charges, pending a judge and probation’s approval.


HD 1681 – An Act to establish transparency with respect to government surveillance
Current state law does not provide criteria for the use of video recording devices by government entities. While there are some regulations at the state and local level, government entities often have wide discretion to install recording devices without any public input, record and keep for long periods of time the data collected, and give broad access to that data. This situation has the potential to infringe on the civil liberties of the law-abiding citizens unnecessarily. The bill attempts to address this situation by providing the public more information about what is happening and create standard rules for the use of recording devices.


HD 654 – An Act for fairness regarding line of duty benefits
Under current law, a $300,000 payment is given to the family any public safety employee who was killed or sustained injuries in the line of duty. This bill expands that eligibility to include the family of any public employee who dies while on the job. It also expands eligibility for the Public Service Scholarship Program.


HD 2955  – An Act to increase fair housing protections for survivors of domestic violence
This legislation will add survivors of domestic violence as a protected class under fair housing laws. This bill will protect domestic violence survivors against unfair evictions, different rental agreement terms, and denial of lease/sale. These protections currently apply to public housing but not private housing.


 

To learn more about the legislation that I have filed, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email (Caitlin.Duffy@mahouse.gov) or by telephone (617-722-2396)