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June 21, 2009

New report urging drug sentencing reform in Massachusetts

This press release made available at FAMM provides this report on a new state bar report urging drug sentencing reforms in Massachusetts:

Massachusetts must enact meaningful drug reform for non-violent offenders, focusing on education and treatment instead of incarceration and punishment, according to a report of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Drug Policy Task Force.  Mandatory minimum sentencing reform and diversion to treatment, alone, could save the state more than $25 million a year.

“This comprehensive report has identified many ways in which our drug policy in Massachusetts needs repair,” said David W. White Jr., MBA past president and chair of the MBA Drug Policy Task Force.  “These are problems that we cannot afford to ignore.  We have made several recommendations which will reduce the rate of crime, which will save the taxpayers money and which will help rebuild families and communities.”

Converting from criminal prosecution of non-violent drug offenders to treatment of their addictions is the overall message of the report, “The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth.”  A product of more than one year of research and consideration, the report was created by a task force of nearly three dozen prominent leaders, including lawyers, law enforcement, the judiciary, mental health professionals, physicians, social workers and public policy advocates.

The full report is available at this link.  Here is the first paragraph of the executive summary:

It has become evident that the Commonwealth’s policies with regard to drug education, drug treatment, and punishment for drug offenses are ineffective.  The system is broken and it is badly in need of repair. Drug education programs fail to effectively educate the young and to reduce the likelihood of their using alcohol and drugs.  Treatment opportunities are limited by lack of funding, and residents who could benefit from treatment are denied the opportunity.  Many end up in jail or prison, where treatment is again limited. Incarceration is not an effective deterrent to most drug crimes, and the current sentencing system, including mandatory minimum sentences for many drug offenses, does not effectively reduce the likelihood of recidivism.  The taxpayers of Massachusetts could get far greater value for their taxes with improved education and treatment. Changing policies from emphasis on incarceration to more encouragement for treatment would allow us to save money, reduce crime, and rebuild families and communities.

June 21, 2009 at 06:03 PM | Permalink

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Comments

There is a new documentary entitle TULIA, TEXAS which looks at unfair sentencing aided by Drug Task Forces.
The film looks at deep-rooted assumptions about race and crime that still permeate our society and undermines our justice system. It shows how the 'war on drugs' has become a war on due process, waged against African Americans.
Check it out:
http://www.newsreel.org/nav/title.asp?tc=CN0218

Posted by: Barrie | Jun 22, 2009 1:33:33 PM

Barrie, this report was issued by a drug policy task force convened by the Mass. Bar Association, not to be confused with drug task forces representing various law enforcement agencies. As seen by the quotes, our purpose was to urge the Legislature and Governor to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws and other harmful - and racially discriminatory - drug laws.

Barbara J. Dougan
Massachusetts Project Director
Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Posted by: Barb Dougan | Jun 22, 2009 4:18:16 PM

Drug treatment program any program under which a person undergoes assessment and treatment designed to reduce or completely eliminate the person’s physical or emotional reliance upon alcohol, another drug, or alcohol and another drug and under which the person may be required to receive assessment and treatment on an outpatient basis or may be required to reside at a facility other than the person’s home or residence while undergoing assessment and treatment.

-mj-

Posted by: teenage drug rehab | Jul 23, 2009 1:42:16 AM

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