Two critical Massachusetts bills are coming up for votes early this week. These actions provide links to form emails to allow you to act fast.

Criminal Justice Reform in the House

The House will be voting Monday through Wednesday on amendments to its comprehensive criminal justice reform bill (H4011). The House bill is not as wide ranging or progressive as the Senate version, but we can use the the amendment process to strengthen it.

We must contact our Representatives now. It’s vitally important for them to hear that we want to see a stronger bill that delivers on the promise of comprehensive criminal justice reform. Mass incarceration has proven a socially and economically damaging phenomenon, and it’s time for Massachusetts to move beyond it.

Progressive Massachusetts did tons of work analyzing proposed amendments, and they’ve put together an excellent modifiable form email detailing their recommendations.

Amendments to support

  • Amendment #19 (Cahill), which allows for diversion for juveniles in the court system
  • Amendment #41 (Gonzalez), which allows for good time eligibility for those who are serving mandatory minimums which would be repealed by bill
  • Amendment #42 (Gonzalez), which eliminates price gouging from telephone companies and requires comparable rates for prisons
  • Amendment #48 (Atkins), which requires decent cell conditions, good time eligibility, and access to programming for those in solitary confinement
  • Amendment #67 (Meschino), which eliminates cash bail for juveniles
  • Amendment #89 (Linsky), which would raise the level of what constitutes a felony to $1,500 in line with the Senate bill (as opposed to the House bill’s $750)
  • Amendment #112 (O’Day), which would track the savings from reduced prison populations and reinvest half of it in job training, job placement, and other supports to further reduce unemployment and recidivism (justice reinvestment)
  • Amendment #142 (Holmes), which provides for alternatives to incarceration for the primary caretakers of dependent children
  • Amendment #144 (Balser), which would strengthen the data collection for and limitations on the use of solitary confinement, and protects the rights of those in solitary confinement
  • Amendment #148 (Khan), which would raise the top age at which a young person is treated as a juvenile in the courts to 19, making far greater rehabilitation and support available to them
  • Amendment #157 (Carvalho), which eliminates racially discriminatory mandatory minimum sentences related to arbitrarily defined “school zones”
  • Amendment #160 (Khan), which would allow for the expungement of juvenile records
  • Amendment #194 (Keefe), which would repeal mandatory minimums for all non-violent drug sentences except trafficking in fentanyl and carfentanil.
  • Amendment #197 (Keefe), which eliminates parole fees and public counsel fees for people who are indigent

Amendments to oppose

  • Amendment #1 (Puppolo), which would allow for more restrictive bail if someone is brought in again while they are out on bail
  • Amendments #4 & #7 (Frost), which establish mandatory minimum sentences for assaulting a police officer, peddling a dangerous myth of a “war on cops” and putting a chilling effect on protest
  • Amendment #8 (Linsky), which calls for jail time for anyone who disrupts a court proceeding
  • Amendment #13 (Linsky), which allows for viewing sealed records for youth program volunteers
  • Amendment #23 (Lyons), which creates manslaughter charges for anyone providing a drug that results in death, thus making individuals less likely to call for emergency medical help in such situations
  • Amendment #39 (Velis), which allows for the keeping of pregnant women in solitary confinement
  • Amendment #40 (Velis), which strikes out time limits for solitary confinement
  • Amendments #53, #115, & #174 (Jones), which would expand the state’s wiretapping law and curtail privacy rights
  • Amendment #124 (Jones), which strikes the CORI sealing provisions of the underlying bill
  • Amendment #126 (Jones), which strikes the increase in the felony threshold for larceny in the underlying bill
  • Amendment #127 (Jones) & #137 (Lyons), which give local law enforcement authority to hold people in custody based on a detainer from ICE.

It’s essential to act right now, either by sending the Progressive Massachusetts email or by calling your representative. For phone calls, you might want simply to list the support/oppose amendment numbers and perhaps detail a few that you feel strongly about. SUPPORT Amendments 19, 41, 42, 48, 67, 89, 112, 142, 148, 157, 160, 194, 197. OPPOSE Amendments 1, 4, 7, 8, 13, 23, 39, 40, 53, 115, 124, 126, 127, 137, 174.

And finally, please share this widely. This is our once-in-a-generation chance to make the Massachusetts criminal-justice-system fairer and more effective.

ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill in the Senate

Repeating last Friday’s ACCESS action for those who missed it.

Tell your state senator to support the ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill guaranteeing coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and supplies, including sterilization, without a copay. The House passed ACCESS by an overwhelming margin, 138 to 16, this week, and the Senate is likely to take it up Tuesday. Let’s show the White House what we think of their gutting ACA requirement for employer health plans to pay for birth control by making sure the Senate passes ACCESS with a similarly powerful vote.

Planned Parenthood has a terrific, modifiable form email you can send quickly. Or you can use their arguments to call your state senator personally.