Providing opportunities for education and pro bono in all substantive areas of real estate law

From Issue Spot: Focus Needed on Entire Criminal Justice System

Monday, November 05, 2012

When the next legislative session begins on January 2nd, you can expect to see us working on proposals that are not necessarily flashy but which are designed to address flaws in existing Massachusetts laws. For example, we will refile bills regarding the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, the Forensic Sciences Advisory Board, and an update of certain banking laws. Our ongoing public policy agenda also focuses on continuing to work on improving our justice system as a whole. In this context, criminal justice issues become salient. As a big picture thinker, the BBA likes to tackle issues holistically.

Say the word “holistic” and healthcare springs to mind. But many of the same principles apply across disciplines. In the medical world, a holistic approach means considering all elements of a patient’s health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Patients actively participate in their own medical care by taking preventative measures. Long gone are the days when a doctor would simply prescribe a patient medication or perform an operation hoping to cure an ailment. Now, doctors and patients work collaboratively to determine the best course of action and to make healthy life choices that promote overall good health.

A similar approach should be applied to the criminal justice system. As with health, it is dangerous to ignore indicators that the system is not living up to its potential. When something does go seriously wrong, it can take something akin to radical surgery to fix. This could mean more financial resources, more oversight, an investigation, or some other type of reform.

The justice system is complex. It’s made up of interconnected yet individual departments, agencies, and branches. Problems in one area will almost always have ramifications on other parts of the system. The BBA takes a holistic approach to criminal justice because success isn’t measured just by securing more resources or the passage of a single piece of legislation. Success should also be measured by reducing our recidivism rates, improving public safety and reintegrating individuals into society.

The BBA works to identify areas for improvement that would contribute to the overall wellness of the entire system. Over the years, the BBA’s reports and recommendations have covered a wide array of topics such as the Report of the BBA Task Force on Children in Need of Services, the Report of the Task Force on Parole and Community Reintegration, and Getting it Right: Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System in Massachusetts.

Additionally, the BBA actively works with several outside groups tasked with identifying problems while recommending measures that would provide more efficiency to the justice system. We have a BBA member on the Massachusetts Civil Infractions Commission – a group charged with recommending permanent changes designed to reduce the number of lesser criminal cases in which public counsel would be required. We also have a member on the Criminal Justice Commission – a group commissioned to study and make recommendations on the entire criminal justice system in Massachusetts.

But there’s more to be done. Building on the successes over the last four years in the area of CORI reform and sentencing reform, the BBA will continue to work towards eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

The criminal justice system should function in a way that does more than just punish those who break the law. Improving public safety needs to mean more than just incarcerating people. Moving away from a philosophy of being “tough on crime” to one of being “smart on crime” requires taking a good look at the underlying problems that contribute to criminal behavior. There needs to be a change to the culture of crime and punishment. Fair and appropriate punishment is important, but real rehabilitation and reintegration into our society is going to be what it takes to break the cycle of recidivism. To be “smart on crime” we need a comprehensive – and holistic – approach to improving the overall criminal justice system.

-Kathleen Joyce
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association

To view the original post, please click here.

Real Estate Committees

  • Affordable Housing Committee
    The purpose of this committee is to educate the local bar concerning new initiatives in financing and developing affordable housing.

    Contact Information

    Terrence M. McNeil

    Boston Properties, Inc.

    Karen Kelleher

    Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency

    (617) 723-0500

  • Construction Law Committee
    This committee addresses all aspects of construction law, including contract documents and alternative project delivery systems; construction litigation, arbitration and ADR; public contract law and other legal issues of interest to practitioners who handle matters relating to construction.

    Contact Information

    Rhian M.J. Cull

    Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP

    (617) 378-4120

    Michael P. Sams

    Kenney & Sams, P.C.

    (508) 490-8500

  • Land Use and Development Committee
    This committee focuses on issues related to land use and development in the context of real estate transactions.

    Contact Information

    Johanna W. Schneider

    Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster

    (617) 951-1162

    Mark A. Kablack

    M. A. Kablack & Associates, PC

    (508) 366-2900

  • Leasing Committee
    This committee studies issues affecting this area of practice and plans educational programs led by experienced leasing lawyers and other senior real estate practitioners.

    Contact Information

    Timothy J. Famulare

    Burns & Levinson LLP

    (617) 345-3000

    John N. Affuso

    Massachusetts Port Authority

    (617) 568-3144

  • Real Estate Finance Committee
    This committee is concerned with all aspects of financing real estate transactions.

    Contact Information

    Amanda S. Eckhoff

    Robinson & Cole LLP

    (617) 557-5988

  • Real Estate Public Policy Committee
    The BBA is very active in legislative and regulatory changes. Real estate attorneys are often asked to lend their expertise.

    Contact Information

    John J. Goldrosen

    Kopelman and Paige, P.C.

    (617) 556-0007

    Kathleen E. Connolly

    Murtha Cullina LLP

    (617) 457-4000

  • Real Estate Public Service Committee
    This committee oversees the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in Boston Housing Court. The Real Estate Section has provided educational programs both membership-wide and to the public on issues related to landlord and tenant law and the Housing Court.

    Contact Information

    Seth A. Malamut

    STAG Industrial, Inc.

    (617) 574-4777

    Katy E. Ward

    Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

    (617) 348-1850

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.
  • Title & Conveyancing Committee
    This committee covers topics such as mechanic's liens, survey matters and affirmative coverage; sophisticated title insurance endorsements; lis pendens; real estate litigation; title insurance claims; bankruptcy and creditors' rights; the land registration system; offers to purchase real estate; purchase and sale agreements; hazardous substances; forms of ownership; mortgages, foreclosures, easements and restrictions; and broker and lender relationships.

    Contact Information

    Sophie Stein

    Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company

    Richard D. Vetstein

    Vetstein Law Group, P.C.

    (508) 620-5352