Criminal Justice

During the 2012-2013 session, Jamie filed the following bills to improve our criminal justice system and increase public safety:

An Act promoting restorative justice practices

This bill creates an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult criminal offenders to a community-based restorative justice program in lieu of or alongside other responses. The referral may be made pre-complaint, at the arrest, pre-arraignment, or sentencing phase and is contingent upon victim wishes. Restorative justice practices may include voluntary meetings among victim, offender, supporters, and community members that provide an opportunity to meet victim needs, hold an offender accountable, explore the impact of the crime upon community, and agree upon a constructive plan of repair by consensus.

An Act relative to the expungement of records of persons falsely accused and juveniles

This bill empowers the Commonwealth to expunge a criminal record where the defendant was falsely accused because of an error in identification, fraud on the court, or negligence on the part of the police.  The bill will allow records of youthful offenders to be sealed. The bill language is fairly straight forward and mirrors the existing law that provides for the sealing of juvenile records, but increases (from 3 to 5 years) the timeline at which a record can be considered for sealing.  The bill also deals with the expungement of juvenile records.  It incorporates some of the methods used in handling the expungement of juvenile records in California under CA Welfare & Institution Code 781 and allows any juvenile record sealed under existing Massachusetts law, section 100B of chapter 276, to be expunged (completely destroyed) 5 years from the date of sealing.  If a person does not apply to the commissioner by his or her 18th birthday to seal his or her record, the commissioner can determine whether a person is eligible to have his or her record expunged 10 years from the date of his or her 18th birthday.

An Act establishing a special commission on prisoner and correctional officer suicides

Massachusetts has among the highest number of prisoner and correctional officer suicides of any state in the country.  Last year suicides in Massachusetts state prisons occurred at a rate more than four times the national average.  While the Department of Correction has already taken some steps to address this problem, more voices need to be brought into the discussion if the Commonwealth is to permanently reduce instances of prisoner and correctional officer suicides.

An Act relative to the appropriate use of solitary confinement

Solitary confinement can exacerbate mental illness, leading prisoners in solitary to attempt suicide at significantly higher rates than those in the general prison population.  In addition, the cost of building solitary confinement units and housing prisoners in segregation is significant higher than in the general population.  Prisoners deprived of normal human contact cannot properly integrate back into society, which results in higher recidivism rates.  The vast majority of prisoners in solitary confinement are eventually released back into the community, therefore, it is critical that we take steps to reduce and regulate the use of solitary confinement in Massachusetts in order to provide for the successful reentry and reintegration of prisoners.  This bill will take those necessary steps by calling for appropriate standards prior to placing a prisoner in solitary, decreasing extreme isolation, encouraging individualized rehabilitation programming, and improve  mental health monitoring for people in solitary.