BOSTON, NOV. 17 - Representative Driscoll joined with his colleagues in the House to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation that will lead to a more equitable system by supporting our youngest and most vulnerable residents, reducing recidivism, increasing judicial discretion, and enhancing public safety.
“This landmark legislation will make our criminal justice system significantly more equitable while enhancing public safety through a series of workable, real-world solutions,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “I am proud of the unprecedented reforms we’ve made to support our youngest and most vulnerable residents, particularly children facing adversity and individuals of all ages battling addiction. I am grateful for the dedication and insight of Chairwoman Cronin, and I thank Chairman Sanchez, Leader Mariano and Chief Justice Ireland for their guidance.”
“The reforms made in this bill address all aspects of the criminal justice system from a person’s first contact with the criminal justice system, up until an individual leaves the system and re-enters society,” said Representative Claire Cronin, Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. “We have updated and improved our laws, made the system more equitable, and are giving people opportunities to rebuild their lives, while also ensuring public safety. This comprehensive and workable bill will have a meaningful impact on the criminal justice system.”
Representative Driscoll had previously identified bail reform as one of his priorities for the bill. One amendment he co-sponsored, submitted by Representative Jay Livingstone, proposed establishing a Risk Assessment Commission for bail in Massachusetts. This was adopted by the House on a voice vote, much to the satisfaction of both Representative Driscoll the House Progressive Caucus.
“I have made clear my views this year on the need for criminal justice reform, and made a point of noting that we need to address the issue of mass incarceration in Massachusetts. This amendment by my colleague, Representative Livingstone, will help to provide an objective and fair means of assessing the likelihood of pretrial failure.”
Representative Driscoll also voiced his approval of the House’s decision to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons in the Commonwealth. “All the evidence I’ve seen suggests there is little effectiveness in this tactic as either a deterrent or a rehabilitation tool, and, frankly, I think the less of it we see in this state, the better,” Representative Driscoll concluded.
The bill passed the House 144-9. The vote follows unanimous passage of a separate criminal justice bill on Monday (commonly referred to as the Council of State Government bill) designed to complement the House’s comprehensive bill. The CSG bill allows individuals to earn early release by participating in recidivism-reduction programs.