I would like to invite you to become a part of a conversation, which I believe will increase the effectiveness of our organizations, the communities we serve and most importantly, our clients. During the initial mobilization of activists in response to the the bill commonly referred to as three strikes, it became clear to me that socially responsive people and organizations were reactive and that there was no coordinated network in place to allow coalitions to effectively respond to these types of issues. I met many of you for the first time during the debates and rallies. I believe our collective efforts have altered the legislation, a victory achieved by uncoordinated hard work by each of you. I propose a conversation among selected organizations ( small enough for each of us to be heard and allow for a limited but focused agenda ) which might result in the establishment of more effective coalitions for future endeavors within our respective silos. The meeting will be inconvenient for some, a Saturday in July, but the work is crucial and we need to be in an atmosphere that is social and comfortable for each of us. I’m hoping that a two hour initial meeting will allow each of us the time to do our weekend chores after the discussion and perhaps some coffee or tea.
I think it is important to have a limited agenda for this first conversation. I suggest and will remain open to changes if the group feels I have missed something;
2. Purpose ( my goal is to discuss the forming of coalitions that can both share resources, not duplicate efforts and generally be supportive of each organizations goals and priorities).I expect each invitee may have a different agenda which we should discuss.
3. Next steps.
I believe we must have effective coalitions in place and that we must share resources when we have a common agenda.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Boston Workers Alliance
Aid to Incarcerated Mothers
Center for Church and Prison
N.A.A.C.P. ( Boston )
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
NASW (corrections committee)
The conversation will take place at the headquarters of STRIVE located at 651 Washington Street in Dorchester ( Codman Sq.) at 9am and end at 11am. Saturday July 21st. I hope to see you there and look forward to a productive first meeting.
CJPC on Parole Reform: A Tempered Reaction to the Cinelli Case
Since the fatal December 26, 2010 shooting of Woburn, MA police officer John Maguire, a diverse array of voices have weighed in about the need for reform of Parole in Massachusetts. These reactions are spurred by the fact that the suspect in the shooting, Dominic Cinelli, was on parole at the time, and allegedly in the act of committing the armed robbery of a department store.
At CJPC, we argue that calls for Parole reform, while legitimate, are more deeply indicative of the need for a system-wide paradigm shift in criminal justice in the Commonwealth. It is crucial that we begin to make decisions based on data rather than politics or precedent, that we use the evidence of institutional best practices to inform the creation of a more effective and just system.
Further details of CJPC's recommendations for Parole reform are available in an op ed piece, authored by our Board of Directors. Please feel free to comment on our Facebook page, or to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Happy New Year!
CJPC has begun its annual Membership Drive for 2011. Read the letter from CJPC Executive Director David J. Jefferson outlining some of the Coalition's most salient goals for the upcoming months. Then, enroll or rejoin CJPC, either as an individual or on behalf of an organization, by filling out a membership form. Finally, 'like' us on Facebook and share your ideas and passions with other members. We are excited for the promise of progression towards greater and more effective justice held by the year to come.
Experts Engage With Life Without Parole
At a recent discussion hosted by CJPC, a diverse panel of experts whose backgrounds span the criminal justice system—from the former Commissioner of the Department of Correction to a former prisoner to a victim’s mother—explored the Life Without Parole sentence. While each individual brought a unique perspective to the conversation, there was much consensus about the need for multifarious systemic reform surrounding criminal justice in the Commonwealth.
Boston Progressive Examiner journalist Michael Richardson was present at the event and compiled a comprehensive report of the proceedings. An overview of the discussion is available. You can also read the piece that focuses particularly on former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction Kathleen Dennehy’s perspective. Finally, please check out a synopsis of the discussion about the need for restorative justice reforms.
Based on the dual sentiments of rationality and passion invoked at the Life Without Parole discussion, CJPC hopes to harness the momentum of the moment and begin to channel the conversation towards change. And we want to hear your voice – email David Jefferson, Executive Director, with ideas for action or to join our mailing list. Also, watch CJPC on Facebook for updates.
Read the Life Without Parole report that sparked the discussion, co-authored by Gordon Haas of the Norfolk Lifers' Group and Lloyd Fillion.
Archived 3/9/11 CJPC Speaks Out – Need for Reform in the State Probation Department
The recently discovered abuses in the Massachusetts Probation Department—deemed “rampant corruption” by the Boston Globe—demand immediate action towards the incorporation of institutional best practices and away from cronyism. Read CJPC’s opinion and recommendations about the state of affairs in Probation, "Evidence for Reform".
Read CJPC Board member and human rights activist Nancy Ahmadifar's letter to the editor in the November 11th, 2010 issue of the Boston Globe. In it, Nancy opines that Massachusetts is currently positioned to employ dynamic new leadership to correct the state Department of Correction. Send your responses to email@example.com or post on the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition's Facebook page.
Archived 3/1/11 CJPC’s Summer Newsletter About Life Without Parole
CJPC summer newsletter contains various perspectives on the effects and logic of life without parole sentences. Included are an interview with someone who was sentenced to life without parole, but was released and a letter from someone currently serving such a sentence. We have also included an excerpt from a paper we have sponsored about the elimination of life without parole. The newsletter is a springboard to our fall event in which we will hold a panel discussion about the paper and the future of life without parole. Details to follow. Click here to read the CJPC newsletter.
Archived 1/4/11 CJPC Welcomes David J. Jefferson as its New Executive Director
CJPC is pleased to welcome David J. Jefferson as its new Executive Director. Mr. Jefferson has an interdisciplinary background that has been consistently channeled into work to realize more widespread social justice. He holds degrees in psychology and English from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University and an M.A. in psychology from Suffolk University. Mr. Jefferson has worked with a variety of community-based organizations in the Boston area, including ABCD and the Upward Bound program at Suffolk University. Simultaneous with his employment at CJPC, Mr. Jefferson will continue in his current position as the part-time Executive Director of the Homeless Empowerment Project, an organization that among other activities publishes the popular Boston-area street newspaper, Spare Change News. Mr. Jefferson brings a strong understanding of issues related to community psychology to his new position at CJPC, and is eager to advance agendas of development and empowerment for underserved populations, including prisoners and former prisoners.
Archived 11/6/10 House Passes a CORI Reform Bill
The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed its own version of CORI reform legislation on May 26, 2010. For the full text of this new version of CORI reform, which has been published as House Bill 4712 click here. There are major differences between House Bill 4712 and the Senate’s version of CORI reform, Senate Bill 2220, so the differences will have to be resolved by a conference committee, and then both branches of the legislature will have to approve the conference bill. What was particularly striking was that House version passed by 139 to 17. To see the roll call of the vote on the House version of CORI reform, which technically was a vote on an amendment of the Senate version, click here.
Archived 9/18/10 CJPC’s Spring Newsletter on Evidence Based Practices in Criminal Justice
Today an enormous body of sophisticated research proving that unlike incarceration, which actually increases offender recidivism, properly designed and operated recidivism reduction programs can significantly reduce offender recidivism. Such programs are more effective, and more cost-effective, than incarceration in reducing crime rates. In light of such evidence, the CJPC has devoted this newsletter to the further elucidation of Evidence Based Practices in Criminal Justice reform. The newsletter’s perspective is particularly from those that have experienced the Massachusetts criminal justice system from the inside and therefore, have special insight to provide. Click here to read the CJPC newsletter.
The Pew Center on the states has released a new Prison Count report showing that for first time in 38 years the number of prisoners held in state prisons decreased. Massachusetts was part of this decrease with 252 less prisoners at the end of 2009, a decrease of 2.2 percent. Other states have shown much bigger decreases, mainly for budget reasons. At the present time the Executive Office of Public Safety is planning a “maintenance” budget for the Department of Correction (DOC). Over the past two years according to Secretary of Public Safety Mary Beth Heffernan and Commissioner of Correction Harold Clarke the DOC has cut its budget by $65 million dollars [out of approximately $1.2 billion dollars]. These cuts have been in health and mental health care services. Not a single guard has been laid off because of the contract with the Massachusetts Correctional Officers Union. Meanwhile the total budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year is reported to be $2 billion dollars to balance a $28 billion dollar budget, and the legislature is proposing a $200 million dollars cut to local aid, which will result in laying off teachers, firefighters and local police.
Can corrections cost in Massachusetts be cut? Texas of all places provides one model of how to do this. “In January 2007, Texas faced a projected prison population increase of up to 17,000 inmates in just five years. Rather than spend nearly $2 billion on new prison construction and operations to accommodate this growth, policy makers in Texas reinvested a fraction of this amount—$241 million—in a network of residential and community-based treatment and diversion programs” (Pew Center Report p. 3.) Even better models for cutting corrections costs are contained in two reports published by the National Institute of Corrections of the United States Department of Justice during the Bush Administration: Evidence Based Practice to Reduce Recidivism and Re-engineering Probation. The choice is between maintaining very costly and ineffective prison system for sake seeming to be tough on crime, at the expense of other basic services including education, roads and public safety in the community; or implementing evidence based practices which will actually reduce recidivism and thereby reduce crime. This will require the political will to take on entrenched special interests, especially the guards union, and groups that seek harsher punishment for the sake of punishment.
Archived 6/17/10 Compassionate Release and the Current Issue of the CJPC Newsletter
The current issue of the CJPC newsletter is dedicated to an important, but largely quiet issue: compassionate release. The lack of compassionate release is a great example of how criminal justice issues are not always designed by common sense or reason. Understandably, no one wants to give an inmate a "free pass." But compassionate release is not that. Persons who would qualify would do so only because they are so sick or nearing life's end. Releasing someone to be treated medically is not, then, a free pass. As a society, we have an obligation to care for incarcerated individuals; compassionate release simply redefines how we do that. Because persons released pursuant to compassionate release would still be monitored by parole, there is no merit to the idea that we are "freeing" them. Rather, we are simply redefining their custodial status. Compassionate release saves money, it saves resources, and it is a morally right answer to a medically complicated question. Compassionate release should be the kind of straightforward issue that everyone can support. However, because few people talk about it, the issue has little momentum. Given the recent pledges for common sense criminal justice practices by the Governor and others, the time for compassionate release may be near. CJPC encourages everyone to start a dialogue about this issue. We have provided a how-to list, along with compelling stories and statistics. We hope this will give you the motivation needed to make the hope of compassionate release a reality. We forgot to mention in the Newsletter that CJPC drafted a bill which provides for compassionate release, among other reforms. That bill is House Bill 1712 which Representative Byron Rushing filed at the request of CJPC. (See the third paragraph on page 5 of House Bill 1712 which would allow parole of any prisoner so old or disabled as to pose no threat to public safety.)...
Archived 6/17/10 Senate version of CORI and Sentencing Reform
The Massachusetts State Senate at the very end of the 2009 legislative session passed a 55 page version of CORI and sentencing reform. The full text of Senate Bill 2220 is available here. The version of CORI reform contained in this bill is significantly different from what proposed by the Coalition for CORI Reform, the bill also includes provisions for mandatory post release parole. For a relatively short summary and analysis of this important legislation please click here. For a relatively short summary of this important legislation please click here. For a side by side summary each section of the bill with with the full text along side of each summary please click here...
Archived 6/17/10 Major new report on Massachusetts prison costs
The Crime and Justice Institute in collaboration with the Boston Foundation has released a major new report Priorities and Public Safety: Reentry and the Rising Costs of our Corrections System. To view the full report click here.
Today the U.S. Senate voted to enact its version of the proposed Stimulus Bill, H.R. 1. A conference committee will meld the House and Senate versions for the President's signature. Among a number of items relating to criminal justice the following funding will be distributed among all of the states More...
In Memoriam: Richard Nethercut: The members of CJPC mourn the passing of Richard Nethercut. Dick was a strong and steady supporter of criminal justice reform. He was a past president of the Alternatives to Violence Program, a member of the Concord Prison Outreach Program, a guiding spirit for the Gates Unbarred Prison Fellowship program in Shirley and a member of CJPC. More...
"And Still We Rise": We want to thank everyone who came to the wonderful performance of "And Still We Rise." We especially want to thank the performers themselves for a moving performance.
Archived 9/22/09 Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act (“Act”) in 2006 in an attempt to bring sweeping changes to how the federal government and the states dealt with sex offenders. The Act included provisions altering federal practice and financial incentives for states to follow suit. The two main areas of reform were registration and civil commitment. Three years later, much of what the Act set out to accomplish has not come to fruition. See article link at The Adam Walsh Act: Still Gridlocked
Archived 9/22/09 Testimony submitted 6/30/09 to the MA Joint Committee on the Judiciary regarding 50 proposed bills relating to Sex Offenders
Archived 9/22/09Freeing Bernard Baran- a retrospective Bernard Baran never committed any crime, but in 1985 he was convicted of multiple sex offenses against various children at the Early Childhood Development Center in Pittsfield, MA, where he had worked.
Archived 3/12/09 Washington State faced with the prospect of an ever-expanding prison population has examined evidence based alternatives. For more information on these alternatives click here.
Archived 3/12/09 Annual Meeting: Highlights the Need for Eye Witness Identification Reform to Avoid Wrongful Convictions. To read more, click here.
12/22/08 Hearing on new EOHHS CORI regulations. To see the full text of the proposed regulations including how they differ from the current regulations please click here. For a summary of the new proposed regs please click here.
12/19/08 Annual Meeting: Highlights the Need
for Eye Witness Identification Reform to Avoid Wrongful Convictions. To see the full text of Professor’s Fisher’s recent article in the Massachusetts Law Review: Eye Witness Identification Reform please click here.
6/12/08 "Even people who believe that prisons exist solely for punishment should not abide a system that forces prisoners with diagnosable mental illnesses to spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, where they grow crazier, more desperate and more dangerous by the day."
--editorial in The Boston Globe: "Prison, The New Madhouse" Dec.10, 2007...
1/11/08 Governor Patrick issues Executive Order and Proposed Legislation to Reform CORI system. Read the Press Release Here
UPDATE: 11/22 Hearing On CORI REFORM Bill H. 2874 AND S. 929 Parole Eligibility/Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform
Action Alert: PSA 2006 Provisions at Stake in Budget Conference Committee
UPDATE: CORI Reform and Mandatory Minimum
Sentencing Reform advocates unite to pass the Public Safety Act of 2006!
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