Legislation

Legislative Priorities

Please find below PLS’ current legislative priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session.

We believe the following bills will reduce harm within the jail and prison system, increase and promote rehabilitation and public safety, and lower recidivism.


life without parole

An Act to reduce mass incarceration, (S.1045 / H.1821) would allow all people serving life sentences the opportunity for a parole hearing after serving 25 years, and would ensure access to restorative justice programming.


media access

An Act to improve transparency and accountability in correctional facilities (S.1477 / H.2394) would shed light on and bring greater accountability to the correctional system through improved media and records access.

An Act relative to media access and transparency in correctional facilities (S.1582) would ensure that media representatives have appropriate access to corrections


medical parole

An Act to ensure appropriate access to medical parole (S.1535 / H.2319) would ensure that the medical parole works as the Legislature originally intended by providing a measure of public decency toward incarcerated people who are terminally ill or permanently incapacitated while ensuring public safety.


Race data and oversight

An Act creating an independent correctional oversight office to facilitate the recommendations of the Special Legislative Commission on Structural Racism in Correctional Facilities of the Commonwealth (S.1545 / HD.3646) would create an oversight office focused on addressing structural racism in the prison system. Fact sheet forthcoming

  • Fact Sheet Forthcoming

Ice Detention

An Act relative to Massachusetts state sovereignty (S.997 / H.1401) would prohibit all Massachusetts entities, including the sheriffs, from entering into or renewing contracts with ICE to rent bed space for immigration detention, and would prohibit all Massachusetts entities from donating state employee time to ICE via 287(g) agreements.

  • Fact Sheet Forthcoming

no cost calls

An Act to keep families connected/An Act relative to telephone service for inmates in all correctional and other penal institutions in the Commonwealth (S.1494 / H.1796) would provide telephone calls at no cost to people incarcerated in state prisons and county jails and houses of correction, including people held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


parole access

An Act to promote equitable access to parole (S.1544 / H.2398) would improve the efficiency and balance of the parole board, 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.


prison and jail construction

An Act establishing a jail and prison construction moratorium (S.1979 / H.1795) would establish a five year moratorium on new prison and jail construction and expansion in the Commonwealth.

  • Fact Sheet
  • See testimony from PLS Staff Attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow Sarah Nawab here.

Rehabilitation, Re-entry, and Human Rights

An Act related to rehabilitation, re-entry, and human rights for incarcerated persons (S.1493 / H.2325) would establish universal baseline standards for conditions of confinement for everyone incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons, county jails, and houses of correction.


section 35

An Act ensuring access to addiction services (S.1247 / H.1966) would end the practice of incarcerating men who have not been convicted of any crime but who have been civilly committed for involuntary treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders under M.G.L. chapter 123, section 35 (also known as “Section 35”)


visitation

An Act to strengthen visitation rights of incarcerated people/An Act to strengthen family and community connection with incarcerated people (S.1541 / H.2314) would enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, and promote rehabilitation by
ensuring that visitation is not unreasonably restricted.


In addition to our priority legislation, PLS also supports the following bills

  • An Act establishing parole review for aging incarcerated people (Sen. Miranda, Rep. Sabadosa) S.1547, H.2397
  • An Act for Second Look (Rep. Holmes) HD. 3611
  • An Act to promote rehabilitation including guaranteed health, treatment, and safety for incarcerated LGBTQI+ People (Sen. Cyr) S.1499
  • An Act to implement recommendations of the Commission on structural racism in the parole process (Rep. Vargas) H.1805
  • An Act to reform parole supervision in the interest of justice (Sen Miranda, Sen. Jehlen) S.1534, S.1540
  • An Act Relative to Voting Rights Restoration and Proposal for a Legislative Amendment to the Constitution (Sen Miranda, Sen. Gomez, Rep. Uyterhoeven, Rep. Tyler, Rep. Domb) S.428, S.8, H.724, H.26, H.721
  • An Act relative to treatment, not imprisonment (Rep. Balser) H.1391
  • An act regarding consistent care for addiction rooted in evidence (Rep. Balser, Sen. Keenan) H.1967, S.1252
  • An Act transferring Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Mental Health (Rep. Balser) S.1239, H.2985
  • An Act relative to ensuring quality mental health services in state correctional facilities (Rep. Balser) H.1965
  • An Act to Prevent the Imposition of Mandatory Minimum Sentences Based on Juvenile Convictions (Sen. Eldridge, Rep. Moran) S. 959, H.1688
  • An Act to provide criminal justice reform protections to all prisoners in segregated confinement (Sen. Eldridge) S.1511
  • An Act to provide reproductive health care to incarcerated individuals (Rep. Livingstone, Rep. Khan) H.2371
  • An Act to remove medical and health service fees for incarcerated people (Rep. Livingstone) H.2372
  • An Act to Secure Housing for Returning Citizens (Sen. Gomez, Rep. Montano) S.878, H.1362
  • An Act to provide sentencing parity in criminal law (Sen. Miranda, Rep. Sabadosa) HD.2097

LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES IN legislation

If you have any suggestions or questions about our legislative priorities, please contact Jesse White, jwhite@plsma.org, and Lizz Matos, lmatos@plsma.org.


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