SENATOR ELDRIDGE, REPRESENTATIVE GARBALLEY FILE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE LEGISLATION FOR 2015-2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

BOSTON—Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) and Representative Garballey (D-Arlington) filed restorative justice legislation for the 2015-2016 legislative session that creates an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult responsible parties to a community-based restorative justice program in lieu of or alongside other responses.

“I look forward to working this session with Representative Garballey on a bill that would provide individuals and families with the ability to heal and move forward with their lives after experiencing traumatic events,” said Senator Eldridge. “This legislation would help individuals on both sides of the criminal justice system and help prevent crime while creating a safer and healthier society for everyone.”

“This legislation will provide a creative solution which allows low level offenders to directly repair the harm caused to those impacted by their crimes,” said Representative Sean Garballey. “It will alleviate the pressure on our already over-crowded prison system and save money over time. Most importantly, it demonstrates to the nation our Commonwealth’s commitment to compassion in mitigating criminal behavior over harsher “by the book” punishments. I am pleased to have Senator Eldridge as my ally on this important legislation.”

“As law enforcement professionals, far too often we feel that, even as we close cases, that we are not repairing the actual damage that crime does to a community,” said Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno. “Restorative justice allows us to do something positive that repairs the breach. I applaud the efforts of Senator Eldridge and Representative Garballey in bringing this issue to the forefront.”

“The legislation will create a framework for restorative justice to be included as one of the many tools for police and stakeholders in the criminal justice system,” said Erin Freeborn, Executive Director at Communities for Restorative Justice. “This is an asset we can use to find effective responses to crime and harm in our communities.”

SD1001/ HD2089 creates an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult responsible parties 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 impacted parties and victims may also be part of the process.

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.

The bill also creates an advisory committee to study, track and make policy recommendations to aid in the implementation of restorative justice practices in the Commonwealth. An Office of Restorative Justice will also be established to provide support and assistance to community-based restorative justice programs in the Commonwealth.

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1 thought on “SENATOR ELDRIDGE, REPRESENTATIVE GARBALLEY FILE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE LEGISLATION FOR 2015-2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

  • Just wrote–and then lost–a message…can’t find so here again.
    I’m writing because I’m interested/working on/ prison reform and the various related items–mandatory sentencing and the lack of support that creates high recidivism.
    It’s excellent to see that you are co-sponsoring this legislation and I want to follow its progress. I live in your district–in Southborough.
    My activity is focused in the realm of Quakers who have historically been interested in prisons. We have a committee in my Framingham Meeting and I’m on a national steering committee supported by the American Friends Service Committee (sponsor of Alternatives to Violence [programs in prisons, including some of ours). At the end of April we are sponsoring a meeting of about 60 people engaged in prison issues with Michelle Alexander as our keynote speaker. (I’m assuming her book…The New Jim Crow…is familiar to you; if not, I can
    only say that it should be. She has inspired many people with all the statistics and facts about our systems” failures that anyone could need.)
    I hope you can keep us informed about the progress on your bill. We can write letters… inform other Quaker meetings in Massachusetts, etc. Several Friends around the state work in prison settings and others have various programs to work for reform and to support released prisoners–one example: a Cambridge group meets with ex-offenders in a program called “Opportunity Knocking.”
    I have addresses for about 20 people who will be interested in what you are doing.
    The Monday conference was SO good (I was there last year too). I called the Chief Justice’s office to see if there is a copy of his keynote… they said it would be posted some time and keep looking but I looked right away and there it was! If anyone wonders about mandatory sentencing… here it all is!
    Looking forward to following your progress.
    Donna McDaniel
    Southborough

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