BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts Senators began debate on a bill Thursday that calls for reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, including repealing mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses, raising the age for juvenile court jurisdiction, and erasing certain records for young people.
Some senators said the current criminal justice system isn’t working; they would rather take a “smart on crime” approach rather than “tough on crime.”
“We need to do a better job of preventing crime in the first place and rehabilitating people once they come out of prison so that we end the pipeline, the endless cycle of jail, release, jail, release,” State Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) told 22News.
Senators filed just over one hundred sixty amendments to the bill. They adopted an amendment that calls for up to 10 years in state prison for people who assault an on-duty police officer. Another amendment adopted removes counseling fees for someone taken to court for failure to make certain payments.
Some lawmakers have concerns with the bill, including raising the age for adult court from 18 to 19 and the impact of eliminating certain mandatory minimum sentences.
“The goal should be to keep people out of prison, rehabilitate them as opposed to locking them up; that’s a regressive way of looking at society,” State Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) told 22News.
Legislation must be approved by both the House and Senate and get the Governor’s signature before it can become law.