Issue September/October 2017

September 2017

Why all attorneys should advocate for criminal justice reform

The Massachusetts Bar Association recently issued a report and passed resolutions urging adoption of practices and legislation to ensure that a low-income defendant's inability to pay fees due to lack of income does not result in incarceration, unfair pretrial detention or accumulation of debt that impedes successful re-entry into the workforce and society.

MBA Criminal Justice Section Council members recently testified in favor of bills that address criminalization of poverty, bail reform, gaps in CORI laws and revision of outdated laws, including the failed war on drugs program of mandatory minimum sentences.

Mandatory minimum sentences endanger public safety

Mandatory minimum sentences may indeed be tough on certain individual offenders, but they are, ironically, soft on crime.

A plethora of evidence-based research over decades has proved that scarce crime-fighting dollars diverted to mandatory sentencing practices is one of the least effective ways to lower the crime rate and reduce recidivism. Therefore, mandatory sentences endanger the public by soaking up a lion's share of resources rather than allocate them to methods that are dramatically more successful in enhancing public safety.