Petition

PROJECT: OPERATION CHANGE was created to change the “antiquated polices” of the Massachusetts Parole System and to address the “abusive practices” of Massachusetts Parole Personnel. OPERATION CHANGE was also created to greater educate parolees, their families and friends to dispel the shame, isolation and despair associated with or suffered by individuals on parole or experienced by families and communities of a parolee. OPERATION CHANGE is a goal orientated project that has embarked on a state-wide campaign to reform the Massachusetts Parole System in 3 years.

Project: Operation Change support the following bills, now in the house and senate, by presenting a petition, demonstrating public support of reforming the criminal justice system, including parole and probation.

Pretrial and Bail Reform (S.802 & S.949/H.1584)

Lead sponsors: Sen. Ken Donnelly and Rep. Tom Sannicandro

Lead advocates: The Massachusetts Bail Fund and Pretrial Working Group

Would create a risk-based rather than wealth-based bail system by using a validated risk assessment tool, creating a Pretrial Services Agency, and requiring the collection and analysis of bail data.

Promote Restorative Justice Practices (S.71/H.1313)

Lead Sponsore: Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Sean Garballey

Would enable law enforcement and court personnel to refer certain cases to community-based restorative justice programs in lieu of or alongside other responses.

Eliminate Mandatory Minimums Related to Drug Offenses (S.786/H.1620)

Lead sponsore: Sen, Cynthia Stone Creemand Rep. Benjamin Swan

Lead advocate: Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Would end “one size fits all” mandatory drug sentences that prevent treatment, warehouse nonviolent offenders, cost millions of dollars a year, and disproportionately affect communities of color.  Also part of the Justice Reinvestment Act bill.

Justice Reinvestment Act (S.64/H.1492)

Lead sponsors: Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Mary Keefe

Lead advocate: Jobs Not Jails

This omnibus bill would eliminate mandatory minimums for drug offenses, reduce certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors, allow terminally ill prisoners to be supervised outside prison, end driver’s license suspensions for drug convictions, and use the savings to provide job training, transitional jobs, youth jobs, and pre-apprenticeship programs.  Some components have been filed as separate bills.

Community-Based Sentencing Alternative for Children’s Primary Caretakers (H.1382)

Lead sponsors:Sen. Pat Jehlen and Rep. Russell Holmes

Lead advocate: Families for Justice as Healing

Would create community-based alternatives to incarceration for people convicted of non-violent offenses who are the primary caretakers of dependent children, thus reducing the risks of their children entering the foster care and criminal justice systems.

Presumptive Parole / Parole Reform (H.1149)

Lead sponsor: Rep. Dave Rogers

Lead advocate: Prisoners’ Legal Services

Would establish a presumption of prisoner re-entry under parole supervision that encourages successful reintegration with the community.

Innocence Commission (H.1618, H.1372)

Lead sponsors: Rep. Benjamin Swan and Rep. Paul Heroux

Lead advocate: Innocence Commission Task Team of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ

Would create an Innocence Commission to examine when and why innocent people are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.

We, the undersigned citizens of the commonwealth, call upon your leadership to enact legislation requiring reform of the criminal justice system by supporting the bills listed above.  We believe that now is the time to make the changes necessary to improve the lives of people in prison, awaiting trial, and on parole.  We also call for eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses.  We believe that these changes will not only improve our communities but that they will also save the commonwealth a great deal of money.

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Thank you.