In partnership with Massachusetts state leaders, the CSG Justice Center is working on several key criminal justice initiatives to increase public safety, including Stepping Up and Justice Reinvestment.
Justice Reinvestment in Massachusetts
In summer 2015, the CSG Justice Center embarked on a Justice Reinvestment approach in Massachusetts to help state leaders identify and address the most pressing criminal justice system challenges.
Massachusetts has achieved one of the lowest incarceration rates in the nation in recent years, but state leaders realized they needed to do more to address recidivism. People with prior convictions were responsible for three-quarters of new sentences in 2013. Two-thirds of people leaving Houses of Correction (HOCs) and more than half of those leaving Department of Correction (DOC) facilities in 2011 were rearraigned within three years of their release.
To address the challenge of recidivism, Massachusetts leaders requested and received support from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance during the summer of 2015 to use a data-driven justice reinvestment approach to study the state’s criminal justice system, with intensive technical assistance from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. A bipartisan, interbranch steering committee and working group were established to support this work.
The working group and steering committee—which included stakeholders from all three branches of government—worked with CSG Justice Center staff to review analyses and develop policy options to reduce recidivism and lower costs. In the spring of 2018, the legislature passed two major pieces of criminal justice legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support: HB 4012, which stemmed directly from the justice reinvestment effort, and SB 2371, a criminal justice omnibus bill that was informed by the effort. Both pieces of legislation were signed into law on April 13, 2018 by Governor Charlie Baker.
HB 4012 expands earned-time credits for people who complete recidivism-reduction programming and treatment in prison and gives judges more pretrial alternatives to incarceration. By adopting these policies, the state expects to reduce recidivism and avert nearly $10 million in corrections costs by 2023.
SB 2371 enacts sweeping criminal justice reforms, including making adjustments to mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, improving data collection, and encouraging judges and district attorneys to use diversion programs in lieu of jail for people with behavioral health needs.
- First Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group (January This presentation introduces The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the justice reinvestment process, and includes initial analyses on the Massachusetts criminal justice system.
- Second Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group This presentation focuses on key statutory frameworks, sentencing polices, and practices that impact incarceration and community supervision in Massachusetts.
- Third Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group This presentation focuses on jail and DOC detainee populations, release decision making, and various measures of recidivism.
- Research Addendum to Third Presentation This research addendum contains additional information on county and DOC detainee populations, HOC and DOC populations, demographics of the incarcerated populations, and a follow-up analysis of Continuances Without a Finding (CWOFs).
- Fourth Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group (This presentation provides an overview of the research regarding what works to reduce recidivism, as well as an analysis of Houses of Correction and Department of Correction programming, releases to the community, and reentry data.
- Fifth Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group This presentation is an analysis of probation and parole supervision that focuses on supervision’s alignment with risk, need, responsivity best practices, including how risk of recidivism is managed, how probationer and parolee needs are assessed and addressed, and what sanctions and incentives exist to respond to behavior of probationers and parolees.
- Sixth Presentation to Massachusetts’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group This presentation details additional analyses on race, including existing data considerations and limitations and key areas of interest that were identified during the justice reinvestment project.
- Key Findings and Policy Options for Justice Reinvestment in Massachusetts This presentation focuses on a review of data analyses and potential policy options.
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