Criminal justice reform

Senator Friedman has sponsored the following bills relative to criminal justice reform in the 2019-2020 legislative session:

S937 An Act relative to treatment, not imprisonment

  • Summary: This bill would allow the court, when a defendant has a substance use disorder, to order the defendant to participate in treatment as a condition of pretrial release or probation, but prohibits the court from imposing incarceration if relapse is the only infraction and the defendant is otherwise engaged in treatment.

S938 An Act relative to guilty but with a mental illness

  • Summary: This bill would create a new finding of guilty but with a mental illness. The finding would carry the same sentence provided by law for a defendant found guilty of the same crime, but if the sentence includes a term of imprisonment, the defendant would serve the sentence at a mental health facility or, if the defendant is a male and the court determines that strict security is required, at Bridgewater State Hospital. Consistent with public safety and security protocol, the defendant would be required to be held in the least restrictive setting that is clinically indicated and would not create a likelihood of serious harm.

S940 An Act to reduce recidivism among emerging adults

  • Summary: This bill would require the adult criminal justice system to adopt developmentally-appropriate, evidence-informed policies to ensure positive outcomes for justice system-involved young adults, and thus increase public safety. The bill would amend the purpose statement of the criminal justice system to explicitly articulate rehabilitation as the goal for emerging adults (up to age 26) by including language closely resembling the language pertaining to juveniles, with appropriate modifications. It would also codify the provisions in the regulations of the Department of Youth Services that apply to late adolescents and young adults so they would also apply to emerging adults held in the Department of Corrections and county Houses of Correction.

S1662 An Act relative to establishing a criminal justice and community support trust fund

  • Summary: This bill would establish a Criminal Justice and Community Support Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Mental Health, in consultation with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Funds would be used for grants to support county and community-based jail diversion programs for persons with mental illness or substance use disorder, and for community policing and behavioral health training initiatives.

Senator Friedman has co-sponsored the following bills relative to criminal justice reform in the 2019-2020 legislative session:

S822 An Act relative to clarity and consistency for the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board

  • Summary: N/A

S825 An Act to promote public safety and better outcomes for young adults

  • Summary: This bill would gradually raise the upper age cutoff threshold in delinquency and youthful offender cases to include 18 to 20 year olds. Young adults with serious offenses would still be eligible for adult sentencing in murder and youthful offender cases in accordance with current law and practice. The bill would also expand the upper age of commitment to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) for emerging adults (18-20) to ensure there is an adequate opportunity to rehabilitate older youth entering the system, including extended commitment to DYS in youthful offender cases up to age 23.

S826 An Act to reduce mass incarceration

  • Summary: In Massachusetts, as murder rates are decreasing and mass incarceration is beginning to lessen, the numbers of those serving life without parole are greatly increasing. Nationally, the murder rate has been cut in half across the nation, while the number of prisoners serving life without parole has increased by 328% in the last 25 years. This bill would end life without parole in Massachusetts.

S897 An Act to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences related to drug offenses

  • Summary: This bill would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and fines for individuals convicted and incarcerated for drug crimes in order to allow judges the discretion to impose penalties proportionate to the crime. It would also make offenders serving sentences for drug convictions eligible for parole and rehabilitation services while in custody under certain circumstances. 

S899 An Act relative to forfeiture reform

  • Summary: This legislation would replace our current low civil standard with the “Criminal Forfeiture” standard which requires a person be convicted in order to be permanently deprived of confiscated property. 

S900 An Act relative to expungement

  • Summary: The Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2018 created limited expungement opportunities of court records for juveniles and individuals who were under age 21 at the time of the offense.  However, in practice, the existing restrictions on expungement have resulted in very few records being eligible. This bill would revise the expungement statute and other sections relative to juvenile records to help realize the intent of the law.

S924 An Act denying paternity rights to perpetrators of rape

  • Summary: The current law in Massachusetts allows the  biological father to pursue custody and visitation rights for a child conceived through forcible rape. This forces the survivor to have continued interaction with her attacker and gives the rapist power to threaten to pursue custody in order to coerce the survivor into not filing rape charges. This bill prevents a court from granting custody or visitation rights to the father of a child if the child was conceived by an act of forcible rape perpetrated by the father.  Further  the legislation would require clear and convincing evidence of rape in order to deny parental rights to the perpetrator of rape and allows for the child to benefit from child support payments without forcing a rape survivor to have interaction with her attacker.

S957 An Act relative to compensation for victims of wrongful conviction

  • Summary: This bill would enhance the wrongful conviction compensation statute by increasing access to immediate relief for a person released from prison after a wrongful conviction, and provide more pathways to compensation.

S1031 An Act criminalizing sexual assault by fraud by a medical professional

  • Summary: Currently, in Massachusetts it is not illegal to obtain consent through fraud. Two rulings in Massachusetts found that if a person consents to sexual intercourse, even under false pretenses, it is still consent. This has been shown to be a major issue in the health care and medical settings. . To date, sexual contact by medical professionals represented as necessary for a legitimate medical purpose cannot currently be prosecuted, as the patient may be viewed as consenting to it, either explicitly or implicitly.  The lack of a legal remedy in this area is particularly egregious given that a patient or client may be especially vulnerable; a person in need of treatment, and without medical knowledge, will out of necessity rely on the representations made by a professional who is entrusted with caring for them and treating them. Further, this bill would update Massachusetts’s sexual assault laws to clearly identify unwanted sexual contact by a medical professional under the pretense of patient care as a crime which can be prosecuted. These crimes would be included in the Commonwealth’s statute of limitations pertaining to sexual assaults.

S1374 An Act relative to access to community corrections

  • Summary: This bill would allow community corrections to be used for reentry services.

S1386 An Act improving juvenile justice data collection

  • Summary: The Massachusetts juvenile justice system fails to collect or share much of the basic statistical data needed to analyze how well the system is operating. Without adequate metrics to assess its effectiveness, policymakers are limited in judging whether current policies are improving public safety and whether youth are being effectively assisted in becoming productive adults. This legislation will gather key demographic data at major decision points to better identify and evaluate policies or practices that may inadvertently drive children deeper into the system.

S871 An Act prohibiting the use of public funds to pay awards, fines or settlements in cases where public officials are found responsible or guilty of sexual harassment or assault

  • Summary: This bill would require that public officials use their own money to pay awards, fines or settlements in cases where they are found responsible or guilty of sexual harassment or assault.