MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano (top left) introduces keynote speaker SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants (top right) at the MassINC summit.
The Massachusetts Bar Association served as a co-sponsor for the
Fourth Annual Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
Policy Summit, "Moving comprehensive criminal justice reform to the
top of the legislative agenda," on May 15 at the Omni Parker House
The event coincided with the release of MassINC's latest
criminal justice report "Getting Tough on Spending: An Examination of
Correctional Expenditure in Massachusetts."
The report's executive summary highlights five key findings:
- Despite a significant decline in the total number of
individuals held in correctional facilities in recent years,
spending on prisons and jails continues to rise.
- Between FY 2011 and FY 2016, correctional spending grew faster
than many other components of the Massachusetts state budget.
- Growth in correctional spending has largely been driven by
rising employee wages and new hiring.
- With inmate populations declining and correctional facilities
seeing potential cost savings, spending categories associated with
recidivism and reduction did not increase significantly, and these
services continue to represent a small fraction of total
- There are large and growing disparities in correctional
spending across agencies.
Keynote addresses were given by Supreme Judicial Court Chief
Justice Ralph D. Gants and Representative Katherine Clark
Introduced by MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano, Gants spoke
about both the financial and societal costs of incarceration.
"When persons commit crimes we need to think carefully about
whether those crimes are serious enough to require prosecution. And
when they are, we need to think carefully about whether they
require incarceration. And when they do, we need to think carefully
about how much incarceration is required to deter, punish and
protect the safety of the public and impose no more than that
amount of incarceration," said Gants.
Rep. Clark, who spoke earlier, also addressed the economic
effects of incarceration.
"We need to look at the costs of incarceration and the economic
impact that it has," remarked Clark. "We simply can't afford to
continue to spend 80 billion dollars annually on incarcerating
The event also featured panel discussions on sentencing reform
Other sponsors of the summit were the Coalition for Public
Safety, Public Welfare Foundation, Alkermes, the Boston Foundation,
the Shaw Foundation and Community Resources for Justice.