MBA memorandum on Senate Bill No. 2210
"An Act Relative to Sentencing Laws"
The Massachusetts Bar Association distributed the following memo
to members of the Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday, Nov. 18,
Massachusetts State Senate
Martin W. Healy, General Counsel
November 18, 2009
Senate Bill No. 2210, An
Act Relative to Sentencing Laws
The Massachusetts Bar Association supports the proposed
sentencing reform bill before you today, which revises the Criminal
Offender Record Information (CORI) laws and provides parole
eligibility for inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for
non-violent drug offenses.
The MBA is a long-standing opponent of mandatory minimum
sentences and has been outspoken in support of reforms to mandatory
minimum drug sentencing laws. The astronomical increase in
the Massachusetts correctional population is due, in large part, to
the increase in drug arrests. It costs $48,000 per year to
house an offender. Non-violent drug offenders face a one size
fits all justice system in which previous offenses or their role in
the offense are not taken into account. Offenders have no
incentive to plead guilty since judges have no discretion over the
sentence, thus most cases go to trial.
Not only would the elimination of certain drug related mandatory
minimum sentences save millions of dollars for the Commonwealth
each year, but would reduce recidivism. Instead of being
released directly into the community, this legislation would grant
offenders eligibility for parole and work release programs.
Numerous studies have shown that offenders who gradually re-enter
their communities have a much lower recidivism rate than someone
who walks right out of a correctional facility and into
The MBA has also been supportive of efforts to revise CORI laws
to provide our citizens with greater accuracy, earlier sealing of
records, and greater clarity in the reports.
For the foregoing reasons, the Massachusetts Bar Association
urges your support of reforming Massachusetts' sentencing laws.