Sen. Friedman joins Senate colleagues in passing legislation to curb college campus sexual violence Press Release

BOSTON – On Nov. 2, the Massachusetts State Senate took action to prevent sexual violence on college campuses by passing comprehensive legislation to establish state-level policies for all higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.

The bill, filed by Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) who serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, reflects a collaborative approach by college officials, advocacy groups, students and policymakers to address the issue of on-campus sexual assaults.

“Sexual assault on college campuses can no longer be an issue that we brush aside,” said Senator Friedman (D-Arlington). “Too often, students fear reporting incidents of sexual assault and do not have access to adequate resources or training guides to assist them. This bill takes an important step in providing necessary safeguards to suppress the threat of sexual violence on our college campuses.”

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Sen. Friedman appointed Chair of Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Press Release

BOSTON- On Nov. 1, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) was appointed Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. Friedman previously served as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service after she was sworn into the Senate in July following a special election to succeed the late Senator Ken Donnelly.

As Chair, Senator Friedman will play a significant leadership role as the Committee considers legislative matters related to behavioral health, drug detoxification, Department of Mental Health oversight, mental illness and substance use, mental illness and substance use treatment and services, and other associated issues.

“I’m honored to be appointed the Senate Chair of this Committee and to continue to fight for individuals who suffer from debilitating mental illness and substance use disorder,” said Senator Friedman. “In the midst of a mental health and opioid crisis, we need to do everything we can on the state-level to ensure that individuals with behavioral health conditions are able to get access to timely treatment that they need to manage their illness or addiction.”

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Statement on Bail Reform Provisions included in S.2185

I am in strong support of the bail reform provisions included in the Senate’s comprehensive criminal justice bill, S.2185An Act relative to criminal justice reform.

Under our current cash-based bail system, we incarcerate too many individuals before their trial – not because they are likely to flee or pose a danger to society, but because they are poor and unable to afford their cash bail. A person’s freedom should never be based on their ability to pay.

The Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) recent decision in the Brangan case, which states that a court may not impose excessive cash bail that the court knows a person is unable to pay without a formal written or oral finding, is a significant step in the right direction. However, this decision alone does not address the full range of problems created by the Commonwealth’s reliance on a cash-based bail system.

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Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

Last Thursday, I was proud to join my colleagues in passing comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation after 14 hours of debate on the Senate floor.

I am very pleased that bail reform was included in the final version of the omnibus bill – our office has worked incredibly hard over the past few months to move this provision forward. To read my full statement on bail reform, please click here. In addition, my colleague Senator Brownsberger, the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, provides an informative summary of the bail reform provisions at this link on his website.

With this bill, the Senate took critical action to move Massachusetts toward a fairer system that focuses on lessening unnecessary incarceration and increasing access to diversion programs. We still have a lot more work to do, but we have certainly taken a step in the right direction.

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and visited my office to express your advocacy for criminal justice reform over the past several weeks. Your voice truly had a say in the outcome of this legislation. If you have any additional questions or comments, please share your thoughts below, call my office at (617) 722-1432, or email me directly at Cindy.Friedman@masenate.gov.

Senate names worker grants for the late Sen. Donnelly The Lowell Sun

BOSTON — A workforce training grant program championed for years by the late Sen. Kenneth Donnelly would be named in memory of him and given a dedicated funding stream under a bill the Senate passed Thursday. The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund provides regional training partnerships with the goal of placing unemployed and underemployed workers in jobs that pay a decent wage. Sen. Jason Lewis said the trust fund can help both workers and employees.

“Ken Donnelly never gave up this effort, nor did he ever relax his constant and vocal support for working families,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman, who served as Donnelly’s chief of staff and has since been elected to his seat in the Senate, said in her maiden address. “Because of the work he did to provide opportunities for our residents, it is a fitting gesture that as we supply a reliable funding stream we name the grants that will be made possible after Ken Donnelly.”

Donnelly’s widow, Judy, was present in the Senate’s temporary chamber for the unanimous vote on both the amendment and bill. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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Sen. Friedman joins Senate Colleagues in Passing Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Press Release

BOSTON-Yesterday the Massachusetts Senate passed by a vote of 27-10 a comprehensive criminal justice reform package that updates decades old criminal sentencing laws to improve outcomes of our criminal justice system. Among the provisions included in the bill are repealing ineffective mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenders, reducing and eliminating over burdensome fees and fines, reforming the bail system, allowing for compassionate release for infirmed inmates, and reforms to the juvenile justice system.

“Yesterday I was proud to join my Senate colleagues in voting to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform, especially much needed reforms to our pretrial bail system,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “Ability to pay bail should never be used as criteria to determine someone’s freedom. These reforms move our bail system away from a cash-based system to one that gives judges the necessary tools and guidelines to make informed decisions regarding pretrial release while honoring the purpose of bail – to assure someone shows up in court and does not pose a danger to the community.”

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Senate TV takes to the air, with policy focus The Lowell Sun

Ahead of the long-anticipated debate on its criminal justice bill Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate launched its own online broadcast program to highlight major Senate initiatives.

The streaming series, “State of the Senate,” premiered at 10:30 a.m. with seven Democratic senators discussing various aspects of the criminal justice bill (S 2185). The program is available on the Legislature’s website and on closed-circuit TVs inside the State House.

Sens. William Brownsberger, Patricia Jehlen, Karen Spilka, Michael Barrett, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Cindy Friedman and Jamie Eldridge spoke, accompanied by stock footage and elevator music, for about 18 minutes about the bill they will debate Thursday.

The Senate president’s office said the program will air “periodically” and that a second episode is planned to cover the Senate’s health care reform bill.

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What would the Massachusetts Senate’s criminal justice reform bill do? MassLive

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a major overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system. The bill, S.2185, is 113 pages long, has 239 sections and is estimated to cost more than $1 million in the next fiscal year. So what would the bill do? Here is a look at a few major topics addressed in the bill.

The purpose of bail reform is to ensure that someone is not imprisoned solely because they are unable to afford cash bail.

“What we’re trying to do with bail reform is move bail from a cash based system, which disproportionately affects people who don’t have money, to a system that’s evidence based and that’s objective and that determines or looks at whether someone is a flight risk or a danger to themselves or others,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington.

What this means is establishing ways for judges to assess whether someone is a flight risk or a danger, determine how much they can pay, and set bail at the least restrictive amount possible to ensure that they will return to court and will not pose a danger to others.

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