The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition is a member-based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of effective, just, and humane criminal justice policy in Massachusetts. We seek to accomplish this by expanding the public discourse on criminal justice, promoting dialogue and cooperation among diverse stakeholders, and building support for policies that better protect our communities, promote accountability and change for offenders, and provide restitution to victims. We hold occasional networking meetings on a variety of criminal justice issues, sponsor public forums and conferences, organize legislative action, and provide support and coordination to groups engaged in advocacy.
Our website is intended to inform members of the Coalition and the public about the status of current criminal justice policy initiatives, coalition activities, links to other important websites, and means by which interested persons can support rational and effective criminal justice policy.
The Coalition is guided by these principles:
- Prisons should be reserved for only the most serious crimes. We should develop a wide range of alternatives to incarceration which would be less costly and more effective than prisons in rehabilitating offenders and holding them accountable through fines, community service and restitution to victims.
- Mandatory minimum sentences should be eliminated in order to restore judicial discretion, reduce discriminatory prosecution, and relieve dangerous overcrowding in our prisons.
- Prisons should be administered not to inflict additional punishment, but to provide a safe, humane environment, to preserve family ties and prepare prisoners to return to society. To this end, prisoners should be offered education, job training, drug and mental health treatment, and progressively more freedom and responsibilities within the institutions.
- Contact with family and community should be encouraged and full use made of work release, pre-release, furloughs, and halfway houses.
- Drug addiction is more effectively addressed as a health, rather than a criminal problem. Resources devoted to interdiction and law enforcement could be better spent on prevention, education and comprehensive drug treatment.
- The death penalty has no place in society.
History of the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition
The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition (CJPC) was created in 1996 in order to bring together those individuals and organizations concerned about the individual and societal repercussions of the increasingly retributive nature of criminal justice policy in Massachusetts. In 2002 the CJPC was incorporated and received its 501c3 status from the IRS. The CJPC is run by a ten-person board of directors. All work is done by the volunteer board and interns.
The group aims to build support for rational, effective, and restorative criminal justice policies in Massachusetts by expanding the public discourse on criminal justice, promoting dialogue and co-operation among diverse stakeholders, and empowering groups and individuals committed to reversing our over-reliance on incarceration and punishment.
Some of our key accomplishments have been:
- the (co-)presentation of major conferences Restorative Justice (1997), Critical Passage: from Prison to Community (Oct., 1998), Mothers in Prison, Children in Crisis (annual, 1998 and 1999), Building Partnerships for Restorative Justice (Nov.,1999), and Wrongful Convictions: A Call to Action (April, 2002).
- enhanced media coverage of criminal justice policies via radio and television talk shows; articles, coverage, and letters to the editor in the Globe, Herald, Phoenix, Metro West News, Cape Cod Times, The Tab, and State House News Service.
- establishing relationships with victim’s groups (Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, Working Group on Crime Victim’s Rights and Services), restorative justice organizations (Center for Restorative Justice and the Restorative Justice Working Group), the Mass. Taxpayers Association, prisoner and ex-offender organizations (American Friends Service Committee and the Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project), Sheriffs (Ashe of Hampden County, McCormack of Dukes County, Hodgson of Bristol County), and a host of other organizations concerned with criminal justice policies focused on long-term societal benefit (ACLU, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, Crime and Justice Foundation, Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance).
- creation of a website for those interested in criminal justice policy in Massachusetts.
- co-drafting an initiative on the 2000 ballot that would allow a judge to divert drug-dependent drug offenders to treatment and make changes to asset forfeiture law.
- invited to sit on Boston Bar Association Panel to study Prisoner Release and Community Reintegration issues.
- fought to maintain prisoners’ right to vote in Massachusetts organized community members to fight the size of the proposed prison in Dukes County, MA.
Joining the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition
The CJPC is looking for members to join our efforts at reform and educating the public on issues that we feel are important. If you or your organization would like to join, please call 617-807-0111.
Staff and Board
Rachel Corey--Executive Director
Since the spring of 2014, Rachel Corey is the executive director at the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition. Since she has come on board, she has worked with members to develop the Sex Offender Policy Reform Initiative and the Anti-LWOP working groups. She has also renewed CJPC's commitment to the Jobs Not Jails coalition and the Coalition for Effective Public Safety. She received her Masters in Law and Public Policy from Northeastern University in 2015. Her undergraduate degree is from Bryn Mawr College.
Eric Tennen is a partner at Swomley and Tennen, LLP. His work focuses on trial and appellate practice, with a focus on criminal defense and civil liberties. Eric also teaches Legal Research and Writing for first year law students at Boston University School of Law.
In his career as an attorney, Eric has successfully defended persons charged with serious felonies in both State and Federal court. He has won the release of several persons facing civil commitment pursuant to G.L. chapter 123A as a sexually dangerous person and has successfully represented clients before the Sex Offender Registry Board. Eric has been on several Continuing Legal Education panels.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Eric received an LLM in Criminal Law from the University of Buffalo School of Law in 2004. He graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law in 2001. He has a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan from 1998. Eric has also published articles concerning a wide array of criminal law issues.
Eric joined the CJPC Board of Directors in 2009.
Walter Stone--Vice Chairman
Walter Stone is the longest serving member of the CJPC Board of Directors. Walter served four years with the United States Air Force. He then pursued his studies in college, ultimately graduating from seminary. He worked for the Christian Ministry for 25 years as a pastor, counseling, and teacher. He taught at colleges about the use of academic material to practical life. He developed a sister-city program, was a camp counselor and served on various boards. Walter is an ex-prisoner who spent his incarceration assisting men with their legal issues, helping other prisoner with personal issues. He also served on a Legal Advisory group. Walter brings tremendous life experience, and a long institutional memory of CJPC history and accomplishments.
Allison Jordan has been a public defender with the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services since April 2011. She works in the Alternative Commitment unit, representing sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences but remain indefinitely incarcerated for one-day-to-life, pursuant to the Massachusetts "sexually dangerous persons" law. Prior to CPCS, she worked for New York Legal Aid Society’s Queens and Brooklyn offices, representing indigent defendants charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to high-level felonies. While in law school, Ms. Jordan worked for the Cornell Legal Aid Clinic, the Capital Trial Clinic, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in Boston. Ms. Jordan’s dedication to public service began before she entered law school: she served as an intern, then a child protective services worker for the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth, and Families in Claremont, NH.
Susan McLaughlin joined the Board in 2015.
In the early 1960s, Susan saw the plague of racism and poverty in Massachusetts as a volunteer at the Columbia Point housing project in Dorchester. After marching for workers’ rights with the Rev Martin Luther King in Boston, she became an activist in the civil rights and anti-war movements, including war tax refusal to fund the Black Panthers’ free-breakfast program.
Susan earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology as a single working mother and began a career as a technical writer in computer engineering. In midlife, she left hi-tech for a second career in local newswriting and photography and began a life in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. For the past 20 years, she has volunteered in the state’s prisons, teaching the Houses of Healing curriculum and bringing 12-step programs to incarcerated men and women.
She is a past president and member of EPOCA (Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement) in Worcester. She is currently planning a street outreach project for clean needle exchange in Worcester.
Susan hopes that her small efforts, combined with those of many loving and determined people, will leave a more just and compassionate world for her grandson and future generations.
Joel Pentlarge was born in Boston, grew up in Worcester, and graduated from Reed College in Portland Oregon and New England School of Law in Boston. He established a civil legal aid program in Ware, MA as a VISTA Volunteer and worked as a legal aid lawyer for five years. After that, he went into private practice in Ware for twenty years. He was chairman of the Ware Conservation Commission for ten years and President of the Palmer Airport Association. He experienced the other side of criminal justice system as prisoner for 3 ˝ years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk and two years at the Massachusetts Treatment Center. He corresponded with CJPC while in prison and attended his first CJPC meeting shortly after getting out of prison in the spring of 2006. In the spring of 2007 he was invited to join the CJPC board of directors. For the last several years, Joel has served the board in various capacities including Secretary, Interim Executive Director and, now, Treasurer.
Arthur is the co-founder of several residential treatment facilities for disadvantage youths in Southern California. He is also a former Boston University student and database specialist with an extensive history in commercial and residential real estate. Currently, Arthur serves as the Director of Partakers, Inc., a Boston area non-profit organization. As an ex-prisoner, Arthur brings unique experience to the organization, helping address issues of recidivism and the need for rehabilitative and educational programming in Massachusetts prisons. Arthur joined the CJPC Board of Directors in 2009.
Nat, now retired, and his wife returned to the United States in September 2014 after many years living and working in France and elsewhere overseas and are now settled in Watertown. He had several reasons for wanting to return, but key among them was a desire to join what appears to be a burgeoning groundswell against mass incarceration. He is particularly interested in efforts to repeal legislation imposing life without the possibility of parole (LWOPP) sentences.
His engagement is also deeply personal and dates from 1973 when, in the aftermath of the uprising at Attica he was moved to join a Concord-based group called the Peaceful Movement Committee (PMC). The Committee brought together members of the community and men serving time at MCI Concord. They met once a week to talk and share and to work on various projects. He was a reporter then for the Lowell Sun and as such helped with the editing and printing of a PMC newspaper.
It was through the PMC that Nat met a man just a few years younger than him who was at the start of what would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains incarcerated in Massachusetts, though he continues to appeal his conviction. They have stayed connected over the last 43 years and, as he has been moved frequently from prison to prison, Nat believes that as a result he have visited every state penal institution in Massachusetts.
He left the Lowell Sun and the United States in 1976, returning of course each summer to visit family and friends. He worked five years as a freelance journalist in Cairo and then joined the Paris-based French news agency Agence France-Presse in 1982. He retired from AFP, where he worked as a correspondent and editor, in November 2011.
In Paris he was a prison visitor and was part of a national program to offer support and friendship to men from France and other countries serving short-to-medium-term sentences. Through this program he was able to visit four different French prisons.
Nat has been married since 1973 and has two grown children, a son and a daughter, and one grandson. He was born in Boston in 1946.
Tony Smith is the founder and executive director of the New Start Project, to advocate for career development of returning citizens. The New Start Project’s mission is to encourage collaboration among returning citizens and communities to remove economic and social stigmas, to ensure safe prosperous communities. He is a member of the Youth Reduction Taskforce in Dorchester, the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Men of Action/Men of Color, and Mothers for Justice and Equality in Roxbury.
In 2014 Tony received the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Community Leadership Award; the LGBT Emerging Leader award at the White House in 2012; Student of the Year by the Atlanta Metropolitan College in 2011; and in 2011 the Georgia State Assembly recognized Tony for raising political awareness among AMC students. The US Navy awarded Tony two medals for leadership in ensuring combat readiness.
Tony served six years in the United States Navy as an Information System Technician. After an honorable discharge in 2011, Tony moved to Atlanta to attend college and became a community activist. He volunteered with Someone Cares of Atlanta, AIDS Survival Project, Georgia Equality, Shepard’s Tale Covenant Church, and Vision Church of Atlanta – focused on HIV prevention and awareness, LGBT rights and voter rights. Tony has: facilitated life skills workshops; forums on political issues; led community service projects to provide HIV testing in high risk communities; and fed hundreds of homeless people.
Tony holds an associate’s degree from Atlanta Metropolitan College and a bachelor’s in political science from Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, and a certificate and master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Wheelock College in Boston.
Tony bases his life on these precepts: restoring individual lives restores communities; social and economic advancement for disenfranchised communities; and justice for all.
Fall 2015 Interns
Shay became interested in criminal justice reform through witnessing the direct impact of the war on drugs in my community. As a teenager, people around her began to be affected by what is now being called Massachusetts' heroin epidemic. She has seen firsthand how difficult it is for these people to get help, because they are seen as criminals. She has seen people have to wait weeks to get into detoxes and months to get into inpatient treatment facilities, and she has seen people who needed and wanted help get turned away from these facilities because they didn't have the right insurance coverage. Even though jail or prison is a poor option, it's often the only alternative to homelessness or death. One of the first college courses she enrolled in was Drugs & Society, and this got her interested in other criminal justice courses. Currently, she is double majoring in sociology and philosophy at UMass Boston and plans to pursue a career in criminal justice policy reform.
Lauren is a second year Macro Social Work student at Boston University, interning at CJPC for her advanced placement. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies and Psychology from the University of Connecticut, Lauren initially wanted to gain clinical experience in treating substance abuse. In her introductory Policy class, however, she realized a passion for criminal justice reform. Lauren hopes to continue to work toward changing our broken system, in the hopes that it will one day be just, equitable, and compassionate.
Tyler is currently in his last year of undergrad at Lasell College pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice as well as minoring in Legal Studies and Forensics. He’s interning at CJPC because it provides opportunities to be in a familiar settings while learning more about issues related to police conduct, prison conditions, and sentencing reform within the state of Massachusetts. Having studied criminal justice and law for the last three years, he has become extremely driven and encouraged to expand his knowledge in this field.
Summer 2015 Interns
Marigny Nevitt is a junior at Florida State University majoring in Sociology and Philosophy and working for CJPC during Summer 2015. Marigny became interested in criminal justice reform through her sociology studies at FSU after reading a number of works including The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and The Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America by Ellis Cose. She came to CJPC this summer through the Boston University Summer Study Internship Program and enjoys engaging in the wide variety of issues on which CJPC focuses.
Ryan Trismen is a rising Sophomore at American University majoring in Justice and Law with a Psychology minor who is working for CJPC during the summer of 2015. Ryan’s career aspirations include being involved with federal law enforcement, but what really spiked his interest in criminal justice reform was recent cases of police brutality. He believes that the highest levels of law enforcement can be improved by looking through the scope of justice reform. Ryan heard about CJPC from a friend who works in the area, and immediately wanted to become involved.
CJPC Member Organizations
Come Volunteer With Us!
- Interning/Volunteering with the CJPC
- Working with the media
- Writing thought pieces
- Networking with other organizations
- Helping with the day-to-day administrative work of the organization
- Providing assistance with research.
The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition works on a number of issues related to police conduct, prison conditions and sentencing reform within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
All work is accomplished by the volunteer board, comprised of community activists, university professors from various disciplines, and individuals who have worked, or are working, as volunteers within the prison system. As well, members of the organization assist in a number of ways. There are no stipends available for working with the CJPC either as an intern or as a citizen activist.
Optimally, interns will engage one particular issue, understanding the differences among the several legislative proposals for that issue where available, and between those proposals and existing legislation or administrative regulations. Where appropriate, the intern will canvas other
states to discover other approaches to the issue. This analysis then leads to creating written materials aimed at the public as well as at legislators. Interns will engage in “grass roots” work (e-mails, phone calls, and letters) with the CJPC membership and with the public encouraging them to engage their legislative representatives in a dialogue on the issue.
Interns should provide a writing sample illustrating their ability to communicate with a broad non-specialized audience using persuasion based on logic. Additionally, the student may provide a brief description of course work taken, a declared major, anticipated graduate work or
job goals, and/or life experiences which relate to the concerns of the organization. This will enable the CJPC and the intern to select an issue which will provide an opportunity helpful to the intern and to the CJPC. Finally, please advise us of the anticipated dates of the internship and requirements that the school may have of the CJPC as the sponsoring organization.
Short or long term volunteers have the same opportunities; long term volunteers may wish to become engaged with the administrative work necessary to maintain a functioning organization –
correspondence with donors, maintaining and servicing the e-mail list, production of newsletters are but a few of the ongoing work possibilities.
Both interns and volunteers will need to have the ability to do either research or administrative tasks working for the most part by themselves, whether at the CJPC office or at locations most convenient for the task at hand. A commitment towards social change, coupled with an
understanding that others are so engaged and often dependent on each person’s output, should help individuals reach the agreed upon goals.
Inquiries for interning or volunteering should be directed to the Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 617-807-0111.