BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The state’s most powerful lawmakers are exploring ways to keep certain people out of the criminal justice system. Senate President Stan Rosenberg told 22News many people struggling with mental illness and drug problems end up in jail, when they really belong in treatment. He said, “Our jails are being clogged with people who don’t get any benefit from being in jail, and in fact their situation worsens.”
Top state officials are asking the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pew Center to look at current criminal justice laws, and explore ways to make them better. The main goal is to reduce prison populations and to make sure people who are released from prison don’t end up back behind bars.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman State Sen. Williams Brownsberger (D-Belmont) told 22News, “When somebody comes into the system, we would like that to be a one time experience if at all possible. Certainly not an over and over again type experience.”
Fewer repeat offenders in the state means less money taxpayers will have to spend to put people in jail. Governor Charlie Baker said the study won’t cost the state any money.
“It’s free. I think the study is free, which is a very good price,” said Baker.
Once the process begins, it could take six to nine months to get any usable information.