Why the League is Focusing on Criminal Justice

You may have noticed that LWVMA is following an unusually large number of criminal justice reform bills this legislative session.  While we have strong positions on criminal justice reform that were developed in the 1970s and 1980s and have supported reform bills in the past, those bills have rarely, if ever, passed in the legislature.

But this session is different.  Awareness is growing, both nationally and on the state level, of the desperate need to address the issue of mass incarceration, its effects, and the entire way our criminal justice system works. There is a sense in the legislature, and among groups that closely follow it, that legislators in this session will quite likely step up and pass reforms. How significant the reforms are will be influenced by the lobbying of groups like the LWVMA.  Please watch for and respond to upcoming Action Alerts as these bills move through the process. Read more…

LWVMA is fortunate that two people have stepped up to make our voice heard on this key issue.  Carolyn Lee, our good governance specialist, decided to take on four of the pending criminal justice bills in addition to her other responsibilities because of her prior work on gun violence and her association with UMassAction, which has these bills as a top priority this session.

And then Colleen Kirby, a member of the Arlington League who had been working on these issues with other organizations in her town, found out that League positions would enable LWVMA to speak out.  After talking with Patty Muldoon, another Arlington member who had been the legislative specialist in this area for years, Colleen joined the Legislative Action Committee as criminal justice specialist and is following four additional bills.

Colleen and Carolyn have testified on these bills at committee hearings and will continue working on them, or a possible omnibus criminal justice bill that could come out of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, as the current legislative session continues.  If you are interested in working on bills in this area, please contact them at specialists@lwvma.org.