MBA Gala Dinner keynote speaker Richard A. Clarke, the nation’s former counterterrorism chief and a best-selling author, urged Massachusetts Bar Association members to defend the rule of law and civil liberties from government interference.
Protecting such basic American principles should transcend partisan political disagreements and will be essential if the nation hopes to defeat terrorism, Clarke told the audience of more than 700 people in the Rose Kennedy Ballroom at Boston’s InterContinental Hotel on Nov. 1.
“You took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Not the president, the party or the flag. You took an oath that you would protect the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic – that’s your job.”
Massachusetts Bar Association President David W. White Jr. asked for the repeal of mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug crimes and an increase in both parole opportunities and treatment programs when he testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Statehouse on Nov. 13.
“Massachusetts is a leader in so many ways; it should be a leader in the field of corrections,” White said. “Crime rates have not been reduced, the number of men and women behind bars continues to rise, we are desperately over capacity, and we are spending a fortune on this failed system.”
White, who has made sentencing reform a priority of his 2007-08 term, led the MBA Sentencing Symposium, which featured 10 distinguished panelists, at a half-day forum attended by more than 100 people in the Great Hall of the Statehouse on Oct. 23.
Panelists discussed the political, financial and ethical issues surrounding the state’s sentencing structure and Criminal Offender Record Information system.