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.
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.