Category: Diversion

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.

Rep. Livingstone’s Bill Co-Sponsorship for 2017-18 session

Legislative Agenda

Co-Sponsored Legislation
2017-2018 Legislative Session

Below are all of the bills that I have decided to co-sponsor this session organized by their subject area. As you can imagine, leafing through thousands of bills can be very cumbersome, so I would like to thank all of my constituents that wrote in with their requests. If you didn’t have a chance to write in, no worries! Contact information is below to remain updated on whichever bill(s) that you would like.

[gview file=”http://www.livingstonedispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Bill-Filing-190th-Session-Co-Sponsored-1.pdf”]

To learn more about the legislation that I have filed and co-sponsored, 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)

Co-sponsorship Highlights: Mental Health/Substance Abuse

An Act relative to diversion to substance abuse treatment for non-violent drug offenders
Sponsored by Rep. Malia; This bill would provide individuals facing first and second time non-violent, drug offenses an opportunity to be evaluated by a licensed addiction specialist to determine if they are drug-dependent and would benefit from treatment. (H.1806)

An Act providing opportunity for youth with substance abuse needs
Sponsored by Rep. Sannicandro; This bill would require sending school districts to provide the transportation for students in Recovery High Schools, and provide the funding needed. These schools admit students with substance abuse addictions, providing high-quality education and substance abuse services while keeping students in school who would otherwise be at risk for dropping out (H.1815)

To see a complete list of bills that I co-sponsored this session, visit my legislative webpage at www.malegislature.gov/People/Profile/J_L1

Rep. Livingstone Files Criminal Diversion Bill for Drug Treatment

Rep. Livingstone filed a criminal justice reform bill entitled An Act Expanding Eligibility for Diversion to Treatment for Criminal Offenders, HD 1477.

Current Massachusetts law allows diversion of criminal defendants age 18-22 without a criminal record and facing District Court charges to drug treatment to avoid arraignment (and the accompanying criminal record). This means that eligible defendants, with judicial approval, can go to drug treatment instead of facing criminal charges. If the defendant successfully completes treatment, the defendant’s case can be dismissed prior to arraignment without the defendant receiving a criminal record.

The proposed bill expands eligibility for diversion to treatment to defendants of any age and regardless of the past criminal record. All other criteria would remain the same. This means that, if the bill was adopted, a defendant facing Superior Court charges, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, would not be eligible for this program. In addition, the requirement for judicial approval of any diversion would not change.

The changes proposed, if adopted, will encourage more defendants to take advantage of drug treatment to avoid a criminal record or a greater one. He believes that fairness in sentencing is vitally important to ensure trust and confidence in our criminal justice system. When he served as a prosecutor in Middlesex County, he saw how unfair sentencing disrupted families and caused people, who could succeed unnecessarily to be sent to jail. “I am pleased that I can now address these issues as a State Representative,” said Livingstone.

In addition, to his diversion bill, Rep. Livingstone has also co-sponsored several other criminal justice reform bills, including the following:

1) An Act Reforming Pretrial Process (Pre-Trial and Bail Reform), HD3156, filed by Rep. Sannicandro.
2) An Act Eliminating Mandatory Minimum Sentences Related to Drug Offenses, HD1921, filed by Rep. Swan.
3) An Act to Increase Neighborhood Safety and Opportunity, HD3425, SD1874, filed by Rep. Keefe and Sen. Chang-Diaz.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact us.