ADVOCACY TOOLS FOR JUSTICE AND CRIMINAL SYSTEMS REFORM AND THE HOUSE (NOV 2017) / SEE: PROGRESSIVEMASS.COM/CJR-TAKEACTION

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UPDATE 11/14 11AM:

We are at the stage of #AmendmentActivism when we shift away slightly from itemizing individual amendments: some have been withdrawn. Some have passed, been rejected. Deals are being made behind closed doors. Horses are being traded.

The 11/14 template is revised to emphasize the principles and outcomes for a good reform bill. The amendment ask still appear, at the end. If you already emailed/called, call / email again with this refined ask. Show you’re paying attention and will hold them accountable to their votes!

EMAIL TEMPLATE (OR PHONE CALL PROMPTS) for you to adapt

  • Copy/paste and ADAPT this text into an email to YOUR state rep.
  • NB: Legislators have a way of tuning out emails / messages if they think that they are “canned”. Add some intro / closing language in your own words is a good way to make sure our message breaks thru.
  • sign your name and indicate that you are a resident in the district!

YOUR VOICE REALLY MATTERS. TIMING MATTERS:  

  • First Week of Nov: Send this advocacy message (by phone or email) asap: the debate in the House starts in November, and we need our voices to be in their ear now and  throughout the process
  • Second Week of November:  touch back with your Rep’s office: call and leave a message, send a short follow up email: “Still interested in your thoughts on CJR, and strongly ask for these provisions
  • !! NOW!!! HURRY.  Amendment Frenzy!!: once the bill is released from committee, advocates will be rushing to review the amendments being filed by our allies (who want to make the bill stronger) and our opponents (who want to weaken the bill or even add new bad policy). Be ready for our call to action:  OUR CALL TO ACTION IS NOW: SNED YOUR MESSAGE ON THESE AMENDMENTS ASAP.
  • Amendment advocacy can make the difference between a bold progressive bill and a meh one.

Find Your Rep's Email Here  

11/14 EMAIL -- if you can, personalize the opening/outro sections to “break thru” a little more. Record your outreach with us, and SPREAD THE WORD!!

COPY/PASTE/ADAPT:

Dear Representative,

I have been watching the developments in the Criminal Justice legislation debate. As you go further, please support and oppose the amendments I note, below, but more generally, I am asking you to stand for--fight for--these outcomes (and oppose any efforts that thwart or divert these goals in any way):

- SMART SENTENCING REFORMS: Eliminate mandatory minimums, no new man. mins, decriminalize addiction, no new penalties, eliminate/no new "special penalties" like school zones or assault on police (all of these disproportionately affect the poor and communities of color)

- STOP THE EXPANSION OF STATE SURVEILLANCE POWERS: these proposals go so far as to specifically enable prosecutors to target people involved in street-level drug distribution and solicitation (yes, drugusers) for wiretap surveillance. No. No to all of it.

- REFORM WRONG-HEADED "TOUGH" ON JUVENILES AND FAMILIES policies: science and data show--harsh penalties for children and young adults is damaging, and works against the goal of re-integrating youth into our communities. (expungement, raise the age)

- REFORM THE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL: Solitary confinement is abused and abusive and causes tremendous psychological harm that will need to be addressed for years and years after. MA solitary rules are appallingly out of date and have disturbing lack of oversight. Fix it.

- REDUCE COSTS/PENALTIES associated with an individual's encounters with the legal system: it is a vicious cycle that disproportionately hurts the poor.

As far as these amendment numbers still are viable on the floor, I am also asking that you:

SUPPORT Amendments 19, 41, 42, 48, 67, 89, 112, 142, 148, 157, 160, 194, 197

And

OPPOSE  Amendments 1, 4, 7, 8, 13, 23, 39, 40, 53, 115, 124, 126, 127, 137, 174

This is an important and historic moment for Massachusetts. I look to you to fight for this cause of justice as enumerated above.

Regards,

ARCHIVE 11/13:

Dear Representative,

When the House takes up criminal justice reform legislation this week, you have the opportunity to move Massachusetts forward in the pursuit of justice. Mass incarceration has been a failed, socially damaging phenomenon, and it is time for MA to move beyond it.

During voting on H4011, I urge you to

SUPPORT Amendments 19, 41, 42, 48, 67, 89, 112, 142, 148, 157, 160, 194, 197

And

OPPOSE  Amendments 1, 4, 7, 8, 13, 23, 39, 40, 53, 115, 124, 126, 127, 137, 174

More information--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 protect 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

More information--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.

I would be happy to discuss this matter with you further if you have any questions.

Thank you,

___________________________________________

(ARCHIVE TEXT FROM BEFORE AMENDMENTS)

  • First Week of Nov: Send this advocacy message (by phone or email) asap: the debate in the House starts in November, and we need our voices to be in their ear now and throughout the process
  • Second Week of November:  touch back with your Rep’s office: call and leave a message, send a short follow up email: “Still interested in your thoughts on CJR, and strongly ask for these provisions
  • Amendment Frenzy!!: once the bill is released from committee, advocates will be rushing to review the amendments being filed by our allies (who want to make the bill stronger) and our opponents (who want to weaken the bill or even add new bad policy). Be ready for our call to action: Amendment advocacy can make the difference between a bold progressive bill and a meh one.

Dear Rep.,

I watched the State Senate bill’s passage last week with great interest. In these times, it’s so important that Massachusetts lead the way forward on long overdue justice reforms in the criminal legal system. For too long, and  through a series of systemic practices, our justice system has exacerbated the worst injustices of racism and imprinted too many Massachusetts communities and families with long-term harm with ineffective and inhumane practices (like nearly unlimited solitary confinement without oversight).

I will be watching with equal interest at the House’s upcoming bill and debate.

Please work to ensure the strongest reforms that address mass incarceration, the disproportionate and racist impact of the current system, and thoughtful investments in smart justice.

Specifically, please ensure that the the bill:

* Repeals mandatory minimums, and does NOT add new ones, which have fueled mass incarceration, destroyed communities, and taken discretion away from judges

* Increases the threshold for a felony for larceny from $250 to $1,500 to bring MA in line with other states and make sure people’s lives are not ruined for small offenses

* Eliminates excessive probation and parole fees that criminalize poverty and turn our jails into debtors’ prisons

* Raises the age of criminal majority because teenagers involved with the criminal justice system have lower rates of recidivism when they have access to the educational and supportive services of a juvenile facility

* Reduces the length of time before a criminal record can be sealed so that people can get back on their feet after they served their time

* Enables DAs and police departments to embrace restorative justice as an alternative to incarceration, and provides community-based sentencing alternatives for primary caretakers of dependent children who have been convicted of nonviolent crime

* Ends the punitive use of solitary confinement, resulting in long sentences - up to ten years - for inmates who could safely be released into general population.

* Embraces justice reinvestment, so that the savings from the bill can go to strengthening communities and creating economic opportunity

Thank you for your advocacy. I look forward to your response, and any opportunity for discussion.