"Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

The Issues

Sentencing

Fair, effective and cost-efficient reforms are at the core of the BBA's work on sentencing. In 1991, we published The Crisis in Corrections and Sentencing in Massachusetts (PDF), a task force reporthighlighting the need for guidelines judges could reference when issuing sentences. The report led to the establishment of the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission to oversee sentencing reform.

The BBA opposes mandatory sentencing minimums for the majority of crimes, as we believe such a rigid policy which overlooks details pertinent to individual cases and creates an unnecessary financial burden is not in the best interest of the public or the Commonwealth. We have consistently advocated for the establishment of a tough, effective, and cost efficient system of intermediate sanctions, in lieu of incarceration for non-violent offenders.

Re-entry & Parole 

The BBA believes the successful reintegration of prisoners into society is a fundamental component of making communities safer, and supports policies which provide treatment, training and other assistance to ex-offenders. The Association played an integral role in the passage of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reform legislation in 2010, which removes obstacles for ex-offenders to find employment and addresses inaccuracies and accessibility problems that previously existed in CORI.

The BBA has consistently supported an increase in the use of parole, seeing it as an opportunity for individuals to reacquaint themselves with the responsibilities and freedoms exercised outside of confinement while under the Commonwealth’s strict supervision. We have been an active participant in the frequent dialogue about ways the parole process can be improved to better serve former prisoners and the community at-large. 


Accuracy

The BBA believes in the importance of an accurate justice system and in 2009 released a Task Force report, entitled Getting it Right: Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System, which recommended best practices for law enforcement professionals to cut down on wrongful convictions and called for legislation to allow for DNA testing in cases where the defendant claims factual innocence.
We maintain that wrongful convictions undermine trust in the system and jeopardize the public safety by allowing guilty parties to go free, and we continue to work toward passing this legislation in Massachusetts.

See More of Our Work

For more information about our work in this area or to learn how to get involved, please email Michael Avitzur, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, at mavtizur@bostonbar.org.