Current Legislative Priorities

Please find below PLS’ current legislative priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative session. Click here to view a document that summarizes the bills. We believe the following bills will reduce harm within the jail and prison system, increase and promote rehabilitation and public safety, and lower recidivism. 


Visitation

  • An Act to strengthen inmate visitation, S.1379/H.2047, Sen. Chang-Diaz and Rep. Decker: This bill would enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, and promote rehabilitation by ensuring that visitation is not unreasonably restricted and by facilitating the maintenance and growth of positive bonds between prisoners, their loved ones, and community supporters.

Use of Force

  • An Act to create uniform standards in use of force, increase transparency, and reduce harm, S.1362/H.2087, Sen. Barrett and Rep. Keefe: This bill would enhance prisoner and officer safety by creating baseline standards for use of force in order to minimize unnecessary and excessive force against incarcerated persons and increase transparency in the use of force.
  • An Act to reduce harm by creating baseline standards for use of force by K9s in correctional facilities, H.2114, Rep. Nguyen & Rep. Keefe: This bill establishes minimum standards for use of law enforcement K9s (dogs) in correctional settings.

Telephone Call Rates

  • S.1372 (Sen. Brownsberger) & S.1430/H.3452 (Sen. Montigny and Rep. Tyler) –   These two bills would end outrageously high prison phone call rates.  An Act relative to inmate telephone calls (S.1372) would require that prison and jail phone calls be provided free of charge.   An Act relative to telephone service for inmates in all correctional and other penal institutions in the Commonwealth (H.3452) and An Act relative to inmate telephone call rates (S.1430) would require that prisons negotiate for the lowest price to consumers and end kickbacks that inflate rates.

Parole

  • S.1390/H.3457 (Sen. Creem and Rep. Vargas & Rep. Miranda), An Act relative to parole, will improve the efficiency and professional composition of the parole board, establish evidence based guidelines and a risk/needs assessment tool, account for the rights and needs of persons with certain disabilities, improve transparency, and reduce the amount of time prisoners must wait between parole reviews.  H.1541, An Act establishing presumptive parole (Rep. Dave Rogers), will require prisoners to be granted parole at their parole eligibility date unless the parole board determines that the prisoner would violate the law if released under appropriate conditions and community supervision.

Life Without Parole

  • PLS is prioritizing the passage of S.826/H.3358 (Sen. Boncore and Rep. Livingstone), An
    Act to reduce mass. incarceration, which allows all people serving life sentences the opportunity for a parole hearing after serving 25 years, and applies retroactively. There is another bill, An act repealing mandatory life without parole, S.857/H.1542 (Sen. Brownsberger and Rep. Rogers); this bill is a step in the right direction, but is not retroactive and only bans mandatory life without parole, allowing judicial discretion to either sentence someone to life without parole, or permit someone to see the parole board after 35 years.


Substance Use Disorder Treatment

  • S.1391 and H.2127 (Sen. Creem and Rep. Santiago) & S.1425 and H.1746 (Sen. Jehlen and Rep. O’Day) – Two important bills would help to address substance use in correctional facilities. An Act relative to education and programming for the incarcerated (S.1391/H.2127) will reduce relapse triggers and improve prisoner conduct by increasing out of cell time and opportunities for prisoners to participate in institutional programs and education including substance use programming. An Act establishing a commission to review substance use in correctional facilities (S.1425/H.1746) will establish a committee that will collect and review data about substance use in Massachusetts correctional institutions, jails and houses of correction.

Civil Commitment for Addiction Treatment

  • S.1145 and H.1700 (Sen. Friedman and Rep. Balser) – An Act ensuring access to addiction services would change M.G.L. c. 123 § 35, so that people can no longer be sent to prison, without being charged with or convicted of any crime, for involuntary treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders.

LGBTQI persons in Solitary Confinement

  • S.905 and H.1341 (Sen. Cyr and Rep. Balser) – An Act to collect data on LGBTQI prisoners held in restrictive housing would require state and county correctional facilities to collect data on voluntarily disclosed sexual orientation and gender identity of prisoners placed in restrictive housing, also known as solitary confinement.  This will help monitor and enforce LGBTQI restrictive housing exclusions contained in the Criminal Justice Reform Act.