In 2018, Gov. Charlie Baker formed a statewide commission to review the Section 35 process. A year later, state lawmakers Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Ruth Balser pushed two similar bills aimed at banning the use of jails and prisons altogether for civil commitments of men. Legislators say those bills would have finished a job the state started in 2016 when it stopped sending women to jail for civil commitments. 

Despite broad support, though, neither bill passed the last legislative session. One died in the Senate Committee on Health Care and Financing, while the other was discharged to the Committee on Senate Rules in August.  

Balser reintroduced her legislation on Jan 26. Friedman may soon do the same in the state senate. 

“Our goal is to not only bring uniformity to the law, but to treat people with [substance use disorder] as patients rather than as criminals,” Friedman wrote in a statement for this article. “We can help accomplish this goal by passing this bill.”

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