Legislative Update

Thanks to our friends at FAMM*

The following information is provided by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), http://famm.org/.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums | Massachusetts Project P.O. Box 54 | Arlington, MA 02476 | 617.543.0878 | bdougan@famm.org | www.famm.org

Bills related to mass incarceration 2013 – 2014 Legislative Session
These bills address sentencing, prison conditions, parole and re-entry. There may be other bills as well. FAMM doesn’t necessarily endorse all of these bills. To learn the status of a bill, contact the lead organization (if there is one), call the bill’s sponsor(s) or see our flyer, “How to track a bill’s progress.”
A. Who goes to prison & for how long: Mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
 H.1646, An Act to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses (FAMM bill). Repeals mandatory minimums for all drug offenses. Would also allow all drug offenders serving mandatory minimums to be eligible for parole (after half the mandatory minimum for a particular offense), work release and earned good time. (Rep. Benjamin Swan)
 H.1645, An Act to reform the “school zone” law for drug offenses (FAMM bill). Reforms the school zone law by repealing mandatory minimums for school zone offenses, reduces the size of zones to 100 feet (the same as for parks and playgrounds) and allows school zone sentences to be served at the same time as another drug-related sentence. (Rep. Benjamin Swan)
 S.634, An Act eliminating mandatory minimum sentences related to drug offenses. Eliminates mandatory minimum sentences and fines for most distribution and trafficking offenses and repeals the school zone law altogether. Doesn’t address drug offenders already in prison. (Sen. William Brownsberger)
 S.667, An Act to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. Eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for most distribution and trafficking offenses (but not school zone offenses). Allows drug offenders who are serving mandatory minimums for a few low level drug offenses to be eligible for parole. (Sen. Cynthia Creem)
B. Conditions while in prison
 S.1133/H.1486, An Act relative to the appropriate use of solitary confinement (Prisoners’ Legal Services bill). Creates more oversight of solitary confinement, requiring certain follow-up hearings after being sent to the “hole.” Also limits solitary confinement to six months in most situations. (Sen. James Eldridge and Rep. Elizabeth Malia)
Families Against Mandatory Minimums | Massachusetts Project P.O. Box 54 | Arlington, MA 02476 | 617.543.0878 | bdougan@famm.org | www.famm.org
 S.1139, An Act reducing health care costs through extraordinary medical placement (Prisoners’ Legal Services bill). Terminally ill county prisoners or the jail/house of correction itself could seek a court order for medical release under terms set by the court. Terminally ill state prisoners could ask Dept. of Correction for medical release under terms set by the DOC. (Rep. Patricia Jehlen)
 S.1171/H.1433, An Act to prevent shackling and promote safe pregnancies for female inmates. Requires prisons to provide information and medical care to prisoners who are pregnant or who have given birth. Restraints could not be used except for “extraordinary” situations. (Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Kay Khan)
 H.1194, An Act to improve public safety by facilitating access to addiction services. Requires prisons to provide addiction services. (Rep. Ruth Balser)
 H.1359, An Act authorizing criteria for the release of terminally ill inmates to alternative locations of confinement. Allows prisons/jails to seek a court order allowing a terminally ill prisoner to be released to a “community confinement monitoring program” at a hospital, nursing home or similar facility. (Rep. Colleen Garry)
 H.1431, An Act for health education in women’s correctional institutions. Requires prisons to offer women’s health information to female prisoners, and to provide contraception info and prescriptions before they are released. (Rep. Kay Khan)
 H.1434, An Act relative to the establishment of a women’s pretrial facility in Middlesex County. Creates a correctional facility run by the Middlesex Co. sheriff for women serving county sentences or who are being held while waiting for trial. (Rep. Kay Khan)
 H.1638, An Act to establish the Massachusetts innocence commission. Creates a state commission to review how innocent people are prosecuted and convicted and to make policy recommendations. (Rep. Benjamin Swan)
 H.1641, An Act relative to telephone service for inmates in all correctional and other penal institutions in the Commonwealth. Requires prisons to provide telephone service at the same rates as for residential customers, and prevents the DOC or county sheriffs from receiving a share of the payment for phone service. (Rep. Benjamin Swan)
 H.1789, An Act relative to mental health services in Massachusetts correctional institutions, houses of correction and jails. Requires all prisons and jails to provide proper mental health care that meets national standards. (Rep. Kay Khan)
 H.2156, An Act Resolve establishing the Massachusetts Correction Commission. Creates an independent commission to review and recommend policies used at state and county prisons. Its members would include government officials, legislators and others with expertise in re-entry, corrections policy, healthcare and mental illness. (Rep. Kay Khan)
Families Against Mandatory Minimums | Massachusetts Project P.O. Box 54 | Arlington, MA 02476 | 617.543.0878 | bdougan@famm.org | www.famm.org
 H.3280, An Act prohibiting tethering, leashing, and other restraints of prisoners in work release programs. Bans the use of chains or other forms of tying prisoners together when they are taking part in a work release program, would also ban the use of stun guns on such prisoners. (Rep. Benjamin Swan)
C. Parole & re-entry
 H.1195, An Act providing for enhancing public safety by reforming the Parole Board. Increases the number of Parole Board members from 7 to 9, improves the quality of the Board’s decisions by creating a panel to recommend people to fill Parole Board vacancies, including if possible psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers as potential Parole Board members. (Rep. Ruth Balser)
 S.1643/H.3099, An Act relative to motor vehicle license suspension (Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement [EPOCA] bill). Repeals the law that requires an automatic five-year driver’s license suspension upon the conviction of any drug offense. (Sen. Harriette Chandler and Rep. Elizabeth Malia)