Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011
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Legislative News

Senate Crime Bill; Uniform Trust Code; OUI rewrite

 

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Senate Crime Bill

The Senate is poised to vote on a crime measure Thursday that would address, but not solve problems with the current mandatory minimum and school zone laws. The bill also includes a so-called "three strikes and you are out" provision for violent felons on their third conviction.  

The bill eliminates parole eligibility for habitual offenders convicted on their third offense. The list of triggering offenses contains more than 60 offenses.

Senate Bill No. 2054 as drafted reduces, but does not eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws for some drug offenses. Those drug offenders who are sentenced after enactment would be denied parole eligibility, access to work release or earned good time. The reduced sentences would not apply to those currently serving mandatory minimums. The MBA has been a long time opponent of mandatory minimum sentences. The MBA's 2009 Drug Policy Task Force report documents not only the unsustainable increases in prison and jail populations, in large part driven by the mandatory drug sentencing statutes, but also the need for comprehensive education, treatment, rehabilitation and parole eligibility reforms.  

The bill before the Senate reduces the school zone from 1,000 feet to 500 feet, but still carries mandatory minimum penalties. The MBA supports the redrawing of the school zones to 100 feet. School zones disproportionately affect those in urban communities and have had no effects on prevention.  

Senate Bill No. 2054 also modifies existing parole procedures. Parole for those serving life sentences would have to be approved by two-thirds of the Parole Board rather than a majority. It would also require the Parole Board to include a risk and need assessment when considering parole eligibility. The Parole Board would be required to post parole decisions online and include a tally of the votes of the board.

If enacted, Senate Bill No. 2054 would require post release supervision for those serving in state prisons for felonies convicted after the effective date of the bill.

To see the past MBA correspondence on parole, click here.

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Uniform Trust Code

The MBA supported Uniform Trust Code (HB.3780) passed the House last week. We are now seeking passage in the Senate. To see the bill, click here. The MBA is also actively seeking passage of a technical corrections measure to the uniform probate code.

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OUI rewrite

The MBA submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary last week on legislation to clarify existing drunk driving laws. The legislation is the result of a collaborative effort between the MBA and the Massachusetts District Attorney's Association. Senate Bill No.678 seeks to organize existing Chapter 90 of the General Laws making it logical and coherent after many years of amendments which resulted in Chapter 90 becoming cumbersome and unwieldy. The bill does not alter the intent of Chapter 90, but organizes the state's drunk driving laws into an easy to follow manner which will benefit judges, practitioners and members of the public. To see the bill, click here.

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