Massachusetts Sentencing Laws Triple Prison Population & Corrections Costs

A new MassINC report by former defense attorneys, prosecutors, and public safety officials calls for changes to Massachusetts “tough on crime” laws by following several other states that focus more on preventing recidivism.

Since the 1980’s, the prison population in Massachusetts has tripled. Our current corrections policies cost more than $1 billion this decade and that number is expected to top $2 billion over the next, without any tangible changes in sight.

One of the major changes that the report proposes is following those states that have been able to curb the corrections budget by focusing more on reentry programs and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. Currently, Massachusetts has one of the highest recidivism rates, as 6 out of every 10 county jail inmates commits a new criminal offense within six years of release.

I have always found certain mandatory minimum sentences, especially those for drug offenses, to be extremely unreasonable. Picture this: A 17 year old boy is sitting in his car with his friend in the high school parking lot. He rolls up a joint, takes a puff, and passes it to his friend. As the law currently stands, he could be charged with distribution of a class D substance in a school zone. Prosecutors will charge him with “distribution” of that joint to his friend, and because he is on school property (or even within 300 feet of school property), he faces a mandatory minimum of 2 years in jail if convicted- the judge would have no discretion whatsoever to reduce the sentence. Is that really the “war on drugs” that our taxpayers support?

If you have been charged with any drug crime or other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact my office immediately for your free initial consultation:

(617) 830 – 2188