Mass. Bishops Urge Criminal Justice Reform

Mass. Bishops urge criminal justice reform: BRAINTREE -- On the eve of the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, Massachusetts Catholic bishops sent a letter to state leaders urging them to consider filing legislation that would reform the criminal justice system in MA. Called the CSG Justice Center-Massachusetts Criminal Justice Review, the review is expected to be fully released in early 2017, and its findings are meant to inform lawmakers in developing policy options.

In their letter the bishops said they hope that, at a minimum, the review and subsequent legislation will both recognize and address several "critical areas" in the current judicial system.

Their suggestions include repealing "excessively long" mandatory minimum jail sentences for non-violent drug convictions, and offering treatment programs rather than imprisonment for offenders suffering from substance addiction.

Additionally, they are urging policymakers to increase funding for in-prison and re-entry programs focused on providing mental health and drug abuse services, as well as education and job training.
It's time to fix our broken justice system. Let's pray 2017 will be the year we begin.

The bishops also suggest altering the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system to reduce the amount of time potential employers have access to an individual's criminal records, and propose simplifying parole eligibility and "the cumbersome system currently in place for granting parole."

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