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 victimís groups (Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, Working Group on Crime Victimís 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 prisonersí 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.